26 May how to prepare for your family law mediation
Your family law mediation experience is for you. While it’s not always the circumstances you might want to be in, the mediation itself is your opportunity to tell your story, make your suggestions, comment on planned actions and resolve important matters.
The best part about your mediation is that when all parties are motivated, you can resolve the matters quickly, saving time, money and upset for everyone involved.
Read more: what to expect at a family law mediation
How to prepare for your family law mediation
To get the most out of your mediation experience, however, you do need to be prepared. There might be some facts or issues that are in dispute. And being prepared will help you be in a stronger position to get your matters resolved quickly and satisfactorily.
Consult with a lawyer
Your first step is to consult with your lawyer. A family law specialist can help you understand what to expect from the family law mediation process and your legal rights, entitlements and responsibilities. They can also help you identify your issues, gather your paperwork and even draft your proposal.
While family law mediation is designed to be as easy as possible for the parties involved, it’s still an emotional and important event. Family law specialists, like our Toomey Law team, can help you make decisions and take the right steps, and will be there to support you in your mediation journey.
Get in touch with a Toomey Family law specialist.
Identify your issues
Your next step is to identify your issues. What will you be dealing with at the mediation? List these in order of priority so you can be sure to get through the most important items first.
Depending on your specific situation, your family law mediation issues will likely resolve around two main elements: your children and your property.
Some of the issues you will need to be prepared for might be:
The parenting arrangements proposed.
- Are they practical?
- Are they in the children’s best interests?
- Are there any risk factors associated with living with one parent over the other?
- What are the children’s needs and wants?
- What activities, important dates, holidays or vacations need to be considered?
- What do you own – together and separately?
- What is the value of the property pool?
- What is the length of the relationship?
- What is the date of the separation?
- What are the contributions of each party?
- What future needs should be considered in terms of monetary division?
gather your documentation
Once you’ve identified your issues it’s time to gather your documentation. Your mediator will likely ask you to exchange certain documents or information prior to the mediation, and you should certainly do so. This exchange of information allows both parties to review all the materials before sitting down with the mediator.
Being prepared with your documentation in advance will give you more opportunity to have a productive conversation with your former partner and be able to settle things – particularly financial things – more quickly, with less dispute and much more cost effectively.
be prepared to compromise
This might be the hardest, but most important element, to prepare for in terms of your litigation. While nobody likes to compromise, the long and short of the matter is that your family law mediation will have little chance of success if you’re not prepared to do so.
Of course, you should establish your ideal position on every issue – and your lawyer can certainly help you do this. But then you need to consider alternatives. Identify those areas where you might be willing to give a little bit, and those that you might not. Remember that this is a negotiation essentially. And by conceding a little in one area, you might be able to leverage that concession to get you to your ideal outcome on another matter that’s much more important to you.
Family law mediations are absolutely confidential. So, if you aren’t able to resolve all your issues, and you do end up in court, nothing you agree to or concede to can be used or presented against you.
Coming to your mediation with an open and cooperative mindset is the best way to get your matters resolved quickly and satisfactorily.
benefits of mediation
Family law mediation has a lot of benefits for all parties involved, and it’s worth giving it your best shot.
With mediation you can resolve your parenting and property matters without extensive and very costly litigation. Where mediation might cost you a few thousand dollars, running a trial in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Court) could cost $70,000 or more.
Mediation, especially family law mediation, is designed to be user friendly. You can have your solicitors with you to support you, and you’ll have one or more qualified family law mediators to manage the proceedings. When and if things get too emotional, you’re welcome to take a break and come back when you’re ready. Remember, it’s designed to help you and your former partner settle things quickly and easily.
With mediation, the prospects of settling are very high. Statistically, over 85% of cases settle during the mediation process, which is a great result. And if your meditation is one that doesn’t result in a settlement, you still have every right to pursue legal action in the courts. Mediation is completely voluntary and completely confidential.
While your mediation process is not legally binding on its own, once you reach an agreement, it can become a legally binding document. Once your agreement is finalised, your lawyer can file consent order with the Family Court to ensure that your property and parenting matters as resolved become legally binding.