Mediation is a dispute resolution process where parties involved in a dispute are assisted by an independent third party to help them reach agreement.
It is a general requirement that parties attend at mediation prior to undertaking Family Law proceedings although there are some exceptions and considerations.
Not all cases are treated as suitable for mediation and therefore the process may be circumvented if circumstances allow to enable a party to proceed direct to Court proceedings.
There are several different kinds of mediation available through numerous mediums.
The mediation may also be an opportunity to narrow down any issues in dispute even where a settlement cannot be achieved.
Mediation is a confidential process, meaning what is discussed at mediation is not relied upon in the Court proceedings (unless the parties both agree to information being disclosed to the Court).
There are some exceptions to this confidentiality which the mediator discusses with the parties ahead of the conference.
It is usual that the parties will be asked to enter into an agreement to mediate where a private arrangement is made for the appointment of a mutually agreed private mediator.
The parties are also asked to sign a confidentiality agreement acknowledging the nature of the meeting as being a confidential process.
Costs of the mediation can be shared and are a matter for negotiation between the parties.
You may find suitable mediation programmes available to your family at a reduced fee or at no cost through various organisations that offer such mediation services. Each party will usually participate in an intake process for such mediations and attend at the conference unrepresented.
If a mediation is organised through the Court process, it can be conducted by a Judicial Registrar of the Court and is convened in the midst of Court proceedings. The parties attend with their legal representatives.
If you are in receipt of a grant of Legal Aid, arrangements for the mediation are done through Legal Aid and your solicitor can facilitate the provision of documents and forms required for the mediation to be scheduled by the conference coordinator at Legal Aid.
Dispute resolution is an important cost-saving measure geared towards helping parties reach an agreed solution.
If you have been invited to participate in a Family Law Mediation, please contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced practitioners to discuss your options and representation.