How Does Family Mediation Work?

Couple attending a family mediation session

Are you considering family mediation? You’ve probably got quite a few questions about how it works and what the goal of it is, read on below to find out the answer to some of the most common questions about family mediation.

What’s it all about?

Family mediation aims to help people manage agreements around separation, divorce, parenting and child care arrangements, the division of property, the payment of child support and other matters like management of inherited property or businesses and the care of elderly family members.

How does it work?

Family mediation involves working with a mediator to come to agreements in a calm and controlled setting. The process usually begins with parties identifying the issues that need a resolution and sorting out the order priority of the issues, it also involves discussing solutions and reaching agreements which are then formalised and signed by both parties.

Are mediators lawyers?

Whilst many professionals that undertake family mediation do have legal backgrounds, it’s also possible for them to have a background in mental health, psychology and other areas. If they have a legal background they may be able to dispense legal information but their main role is to remain neutral and to try and help parties reach a mutual agreement. They are not there to give advice or opinions but can help you to interpret and understand the law. It is advisable that you seek separate legal advice before going ahead with the process so that you properly understand the law and how it pertains to you and your rights.

What if domestic abuse or violence is involved?

If there is a history of violence or abuse involved then family mediation may not be the best path to follow. If a mediator thinks that either party is unsafe they may suggest that proceedings be managed through a lawyer instead and it may be better for things to be managed through the courts.

What if my ex-partner doesn’t want to come to an agreement?

Facilitative sessions can be surprisingly effective even when it seems like one partner is being very difficult or like certain issues cannot be resolved. The process can help people to communicate more effectively and it can help them to heal and move on. If it seems like things really aren’t moving forward then the matter may need to be seen to by the court.

When should family mediation begin?

The process should begin as soon as possible once both parties have agreed that matters should be settled outside of court. Doing family mediation early on can save couples a lot of time, money and emotional distress. Don’t drag your feet on it as this increases the likelihood that bad blood and mistrust will cause the issue to end up in court.

How many sessions will be needed?

The number of sessions required for couples is totally dependent on their specific circumstances. More conflict or more complex issues to deal with could cause the process to take longer, typically most people can expect to attend two to eight sessions although it could be done in as little as one session.

Are there financial advantages?

One of the most common reasons that couples opt for facilitation sessions instead of court is that it can be much, much less expensive. The fees of mediators are significantly lower than the fees for lawyers so it can be a much less costly approach to handling issues. It can also be much faster and requires less time to accomplish goals and reach agreements. It’s worth noting that it’s not always successful however and in some cases it’s better to get lawyers involved.

Post Author: Audrey Harvey