Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution
Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) are just some of the many options available to families navigating their family law dispute.Back to our practice Areas
What is the difference between mediation and Family Dispute Resolution?
Both mediation and family dispute resolution are processes available to families to resolve disputes. While they share similarities, there are also key differences between the two.
What Do I Need to Know About Family Law Mediation?
Mediation is generally a quicker and more cost-effective option for families navigating a family law dispute, and can be used early on in your journey to resolve matters, potentially avoiding the significant cost and stress of an ongoing family law matter and court.
Book an appointment with a specialist family lawyer to discuss how mediation might benefit you, or learn more below.
How does mediation work?
At a family law mediation, an independent and neutral third party (the mediator) works with you and your former partner, and your family lawyer/s as the case may be, to negotiate and reach a decision about future arrangements for parenting and/or the division of property.
The mediator’s role is to assist both of you to generate options, explore issues in depth, reality test options available, and ultimately reach the best possible joint decision given your circumstances. A mediator cannot impose any decisions onto you or your former partner.
All mediators work differently, but most will work on a “shuttle” basis. This means that you and your partner are both in separate rooms and the mediator will move between rooms throughout the session to communicate questions, responses, and offers between you both. This means you have personal space to contemplate and consider, and seek legal advice from your family lawyer confidentially.
If an agreement is reached, it can often be documented and signed by both parties on the day.
How long does family law mediation take?
Mediation is generally conducted as one distinct event rather than a process over time. Most mediations will be either a half-day session (morning or afternoon), or a full-day session.
Depending on the complexity of your situation, you may cover all of the issues on the table, being both parenting and property; or these could be separated into two mediation events.
There is also no rule that prevents you from attempting mediation more than once to work towards a resolution in your family law matter outside of court.
What is a child inclusive mediation?
For parenting mediations, there are options to make sure the children have a voice. Normally this will involve your children meeting with a social worker or psychologist to gain an understanding of their wishes so that these can be expressed during the mediation.
There are a lot of things to consider when deciding if this is actually an option for your family. The last thing you want to do is impose unnecessary stress or expose your children to conflict between their parents. It is therefore wise to seek family law advice specific to your children and situation.
Can you refuse family law mediation?
It is necessary to attend mediation before filing court proceedings in the majority of parenting and property matters. Exceptions may be made in some situations such as family violence, or other extenuating circumstances. Ultimately this is a complex area and to avoid risk or non-compliance, you should speak with a specialist family lawyer who will be able to consider your situation and provide advice specific to your unique circumstances.
What happens if we can’t reach an agreement at mediation?
A lot of matters are able to be resolved through mediation, but not all can be. If you’ve attempted mediation but weren’t able to reach a resolution, it’s important that you seek specialist family law advice to learn more about what your options and next steps may be.