What is an intake session?
An intake session is the first step in commencing the mediation process. It is a requirement for each party to complete prior to the mediation taking place.
Each party will individually arrange with the mediator a suitable time and location to meet. The intake provides each party the opportunity to:
- meet your mediator face to face;
- talk openly with your mediator without the other party present;
- identify key points of conflict that you want addressed during the mediation;
- discuss the various mediation options and pricing; and
- create a foundation for the mediation to have the best chance of success.
What is Family Dispute Mediation?
Family Dispute Mediation is essentially mediation for couples separating and experiencing conflict around a child’s living arrangements and day to day care, financial arrangements and property settlement. It is used to resolve conflict through reaching collaborative solutions and it is compulsory for separating parents in dispute over matters involving their children if they wish to proceed to Court.
A Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, your mediator, provides clients with support through guided questions, reflection and constructive communication to resolve issues and develop acceptable solutions that are future focused and mutually maintainable. The mediator has no advisory or determinative role on the content of the dispute or the outcome. They cannot provide legal advice, however will ensure that solutions sort are in the best interest of involved children.
What issues can be discussed at mediation?
When separating, mediation is often used to address conflict and reach resolutions around the following:
- shared care arrangements of your children;
- property and asset division; and
- financial support agreements.
It is also used to address any other areas of conflict and to reach an understanding of how new roles and responsibility are going to function. For other family mediation circumstances, it can assist in many areas of family conflict such as; communication, roles, expectations, relationships, respect and responsibilities.
Why should my ex-spouse and I attend mediation?
If you and your ex-spouse are in conflict over children and property and struggling to communicate, mediation can assist you in finding a common ground and reach collaborative resolutions. Resolutions can be made in a timely manner as there is no wait time to attend mediation.
Agreements reached can be readily adapted as you journey through the whirl wind of changes occurring as you separate. Attending mediation assists in developing a workable ongoing relationship with your ex-spouse that is supportive of co-parenting arrangements. Putting the time into mediation and reaching resolutions is often considerably more affordable then litigation and court processes.
Why is Mediation a crucial step in the process of a separation?
- Assists the parties to focus on what is important to each of them and how to move forward in a fair and equitable manner.
- Allows the parties to talk through newly required roles as changes occur in living, working and financial arrangements.
- Provides an opportunity for parties to maximise their outcomes without third parties benefiting from an ongoing legal process.
- Allows the parties to maintain ownership over the outcomes they are seeking, instead of placing this with lawyers and the Court.
How do I get the most out of the mediation process?
You can get the most out of your mediation by focusing on what is important and how you are willing to achieve this. You need to mediate beyond the conflict and look at reaching outcomes that are future focused and not caught up in the emotions that are swirling. When children are involved, solutions based on their best interests now and in the future should be your goal. Separating your emotional needs from your children’s can assist you in being able to put them first.
It is imperative to acknowledge the dynamics of your family are changing, roles are changing and needs are changing. Moving on from separation can be successful when resolutions to what matters most are obtained in a timely manner, stability is restored and future direction is achieved. When you are able to do this, the fear aspect of the unknown, which can drive many arguments is removed.
What happens at mediation?
Mediation is essentially a respectful meeting between you, your ex-spouse and the mediator.
The mediator will lead you both through a process to assist you in addressing your issues of conflict. The process involves:
- Each party raises the issues they want resolved without interruption.
- Both parties have the time to discuss their point of view, while the other party respectfully listens.
- Parties explore the conflict, issues and obstacles and share relevant information, through questioning, listening and considering each other’s points of view.
- Explore ideas and options for resolution.
- Test proposed solutions.
- Come to mutually agreeable solutions and develop this into a written agreement.
During the mediation process, shuttle mediation may occur to provide you with some time to consider the other persons points of view and how they fit within your points of view. It can provide a time for reflection and consideration.
Shuttle Mediation is where the parties to the mediation are in separate rooms and the mediator moves between the parties to mediate. This type of mediation can occur for part or all of the mediation process.
Mediation and Children
When matters around children are subject to mediation, the mediation takes a child focused approach. As per the Family Law Act, there is the importance of both parents maintaining a meaningful and significant relationship with their children. Reducing the impact on the children, regardless of whether the separation decision has been made by one or both parties, must be at the forefront of both parties during a mediation process. Finding stability in contact arrangements swiftly is crucial to reducing the emotional and mental health impact separation can have on children. Separation which is inadequately managed or drawn out, has long-term impacts both developmentally and emotionally. With prompt and appropriate strategies in place, you can steer a positive course of action and minimise any negative outcomes on your children and yourselves. With strategies and direction in place you;
- Enable your children to cope better with the changes in their life;
- Allow for co-parenting strategies and what this looks like as separated parents to take form; and
- Empower you to begin to balance out what is often a highly emotionally charged time.
If required you can choose to have your children assessed with a Child Psychologist. However, your children do not attend mediation between you and your ex-spouse.
Is mediation right for me?
This will be determined during your intake session. Mediation can work for many people, under many circumstances. Situations involving child abuse, family violence, matters deemed extremely urgent can be exempt Family Dispute Resolution.
I don’t feel safe mediating with my ex-spouse?
These concerns will be addressed with you during intake. If mediation is deemed suitable then a safety plan will be devised with you to ensure your safety and that you feel comfortable mediating.
Is mediation confidential?
Oracle Mediations wants each party involved in the mediation process to not feel judged or embarrassed in anyway about what they are going through. It is important to know that what is said in mediation remains confidential and cannot be used in any court proceeding.
However, mediators do have mandatory reporting requirements in certain cases. Where the mediator reasonably believes (based on conversations by either party during the mediation) that their is a risk or threat of:
- harm to a person; or
- damage to property
Then there is a requirement for the mediator to report this information to the appropriate Government agencies. Outside of this requirement your matter will remain confidential at all times.
Who attends mediation?
Mediation is attended by yourself, your ex-spouse and the mediator. If you have both engaged lawyers, you can choose to have your lawyers attend mediation with you. Under some circumstance both parties can have a support person attend mediation with them.
What are parenting plans and are they legally binding if agreement is reached?
A parenting plan is a voluntary agreement entered into by both parents. It must be in writing, signed and dated by both parents. It is not a legally enforceable document, however can be lodged with the Court to be a legally enforceable Parenting Order.
A Parenting Plan addresses the day to day care arrangements for the children, how decisions and communication between each parent can occur, special events such as birthdays and other family celebrations, and the child’s living arrangements.
What if mediation is not successful?
If mediation is not successful you have the option of pursuing legally assisted resolution. A section 60I certificate will be issued so that you have the option of pursuing your action through to the Family Law Court.
What is a Section 60I Certificate?
A section 60I certificate is issued by the Family Dispute Mediator following mediation. It is required by the courts for parents in conflict over children wanting to pursue their process to the Courts for resolution. It shows the Court that a genuine effort has been made by the parties to resolve their disputes.
What if I do not live locally?
If you do not live locally mediation can be provided through video conferencing.