What is divorce mediation?
Divorce mediation is a type of dispute resolution where, with the assistance of a neutral third party known as the mediator, former spouses are able to discuss and negotiate aspects of their separation or divorce.
This resolution method is non-adversarial, and the purpose of divorce mediation is to allow the parties involved to air their concerns and wishes, with the aim of working together to find an outcome that works for their unique situation. The mediator acts as a facilitator and ensures that productive discussions take place.
Mediation can be undertaken at any point of the divorce process and is encouraged to have been attempted prior to applying to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to resolve matters. Depending on the types of matters that are in dispute, mediation may also be a requirement before a couple can apply to the Court for orders.
Divorce mediation can be a highly empowering dispute resolution method for all parties involved as it allows them to have control over the outcome of their matter. It can also be a more efficient and cost-effective method of dispute resolution than going to Court.
The divorce mediation process
While the process of divorce mediation may have some slight variances depending on the unique circumstances of your situation and the matters you’re trying to resolve, the process typically involves the following steps:
Step 1: Choosing a divorce mediator
Mediation should always be undertaken with a highly qualified and experienced mediator. Mediators should be either an accredited family law specialist or Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners and are recognised by various organisations in Australia.
Your family lawyer will be able to help point you in the right direction to find a mediator.
Step 2: Prepare for mediation
It’s important to take the time out to think about your goals and desired outcomes for your divorce mediation sessions. It’s also a good idea to consider the things you’re willing to compromise on. You should also ensure you have all relevant documentation, including communication records, asset lists and various other documents that may need to be reviewed or referenced during your mediation.
Step 3: Attending an initial mediation meeting
Before divorce mediation officially commences, you and your former spouse will have an initial meeting with your mediator to ensure that mediation is a suitable option for your situation. This is also a great time to learn more about the process of mediation and have questions answered about the process too.
Step 4: Attend mediation
If mediation is considered to be a suitable for your circumstances, you and your ex-spouse will take part in mediation sessions. Mediation often happens in person, usually at the mediator’s office, however, it is possible to do online divorce and family mediation or over the phone.
The number of divorce mediation sessions and their duration will vary from situation to situation and will be dependent on factors such as the complexity of the matters being resolved and the willingness of both parties to participate effectively.
Step 5: Has an agreement been reached?
If the parties are able to come to an agreement during the divorce mediation process, the agreement can be made legally binding. Or if the parties are unable to reach an agreement, then they may need to try other methods of dispute resolution, like litigation.