Have you and your partner separated? Are you now dealing with who gets custody of the children, or who is going to get the house? Things can start to get really ugly if you are on less-than-amicable terms, with both parties wanting what’s best for them and the children.
So, how do you go about talking with your less-than-cooperative partner, let alone settling on the house and kids? Do you engage a family lawyer or speak to a family law mediator? We’ll get into the nitty gritty in just a moment, but first, let’s take a quick look at mediation in family law.
What is mediation in family law?
Family law mediation is for when two people separate and they need to deal with resolving disputes such as how to divide the property between both partners or how the children will be cared for.
With property and parenting disputes, The Family Court prefers you to resolve these kinds of issues outside of court — sorry, they require you to try alternative forms of dispute resolution as part of the family mediation court process, before going to the Courts. This is done through mediation.
How does mediation work in family disputes?
Mediation in family disputes is an alternative way of resolving issues where you and your former partner sit down with a qualified mediator or FDR, Family Dispute Resolution practitioner, to discuss your issues and reach an agreement if possible before going to court.
Family dispute mediation in a nutshell; you and your partner sit down with a mediator. The mediator will guide the discussion between you and your partner, making sure that you both have a chance to tell your side of the story.
How can family mediation help you?
- It is a way of helping you and your partner reach a decision on what is going to happen after separation and divorce.
- Arrangement for children after you break up
- Dividing property, assets, savings and debts
- Child support payments
- Spousal maintenance
- It gives you a safe and confidential space to resolve your differences on your own terms, at your own pace, without going to court.
- It gives you the chance to speak directly to your partner about your concerns in the presence of a qualified mediator.
- The mediator does not take sides and remains neutral. They also do not give any legal advice or support, but can provide legal information.
Who provides family dispute resolution services?
FDR services are available at government funded services as well as independent law firms who offer family mediation services.
- Family Relationship Centres
- Legal Aid
- Family lawyer law firms
- Private accredited FDR practitioners
But, what if you need legal advice?
Although mediation is a great way to resolve parenting issues and minimise the impact of divorce on your children. There are situations where family law mediation is not possible, which includes domestic violence or abuse cases, and a safe environment cannot be ensured. This is when you should speak to an experienced family lawyer.
Unlike a mediator who’s neutral, a family lawyer is someone who is on your side.
What does this mean? It means they are there to represent you and ensure that your interests are being protected.
There are situations where people do not seek legal advice and the agreement reached at mediation either does not meet the requirements of the Family Court, therefore it is not approved — wasting your time and money. Or, an agreement has been reached that is unfavourable and unfair.
How does mediation family law help settle property disputes?
Mediation family law helps guide the conversation between you and your partner to settle the property. But what are your legal rights? What are you entitled to? This is when you need the help of a family lawyer. A good family lawyer can provide you with legal advice, so you go into mediation aware of your options, legal rights and responsibilities, and entitlements.
How does mediation family law help settle parenting disputes?
Mediation helps you and your partner reach an agreement that is best suited to the interests of your child. It also helps explain what equal shared parental responsibilities will be in terms of your child’s education, health care and emotional wellbeing, as well as other important life decisions.
Speaking with a family lawyer on parenting matters can help ensure your needs are met prior to mediation, and you are aware of your legal rights and responsibilities.
How much does family mediation cost?
Prices of mediation with a family mediator can range anywhere from $225 to $675 depending on the complexity of the case, and how many appointments are required to reach an agreement.
Keep in mind that an agreement may not be reached and family lawyers will have to get involved, if they aren’t already, and this is where costs can start to add up. Some family relationship centres provide an hour of free FDR to every family. You can even engage some family law firms who offer a one hour free consultation.
How long will the mediation process take?
There is no simple answer as no two cases are the same. It may take a few hours, it may take multiple sessions over a few days. Depending on the type of issues you and your partner are having, it will ultimately come down to the willingness of both parties to cooperate and negotiate.
What’s the difference between a family lawyer and family mediator?
A family mediator can assist with preparing a parenting plan and guiding the conversation between you and your partner from a neutral standpoint. However, a family mediator cannot provide legal advice and support or prepare an order.
A family lawyer can provide legal advice and support before, during and after mediation. This means you can go into mediation well aware of your legal rights and responsibilities and make sure the parenting plan is fair. You can even have the parenting plan reviewed by your family lawyer to ensure your needs and interests are being met.
Find a family lawyer you can trust and rely on
How to find a family lawyer you can trust and rely on? With so many family law firms in Perth, it can be hard to find one who will understand and listen to your situation. This is why we offer a free 1 hour consultation here at Savannah Legal. We first take the time to understand your situation, concerns and needs, before providing you with a legal plan outlining your options. Our goal is to give you affordable legal advice while lifting a burden off your shoulders. Book your free consultation today.