Family Law Mediation
East Coast Law offers Mediation Assistance in the form of experienced and measured legal guidance and representation in the mediation process from our expert mediation lawyers. We ensure your interests are properly represented and advocated for and a fair outcome for all parties involved.
What is Family Mediation?
Family Mediation is the process in which a separated or divorced couple, together with the assistance of a neutral person or persons, systematically isolate disputed issues in order to develop options, consider alternatives and reach a consensual agreement that will accommodate their needs.
Family Mediation has many benefits. The process places the control of family dispute resolution in your hands rather than leaving it up to a Judge to decide. Mediation is usually significantly cheaper and quicker than going to court. You can mediate your dispute at any time, even when your matter is already in court.
Mediation in Parenting Matters
Mediation is now compulsory in parenting matters. Parties must attempt mediation before they can commence court proceedings. There are exceptions to compulsory mediation in circumstances of urgency and/or family violence.
If parenting arrangements are agreed upon at mediation, your Solicitor can then prepare a Parenting Plan or consent documents to obtain consent orders from the court.
If the matter remains unresolved after mediation is attempted, the Mediator will issue a section 60 I certificate. This is a certificate referred to in section 60 I of the Family Law Act, 1975. The issue of the certificate then allows a party to commence court action to obtain parenting orders.
Parenting court proceedings may take up to two (2) years (sometimes more) to be determined by the court on a final basis. Parties are encouraged throughout the process to reach an agreement to ensure their children’s best interests are served and the impact of the court process and parents conflict is lessened as much as possible.
Mediation in Property Matters
Although not compulsory in property disputes, mediation should always be considered before court action is commenced to save time, money and emotional stress. Property settlement negotiations may also take place by way of a round table conference, where the parties and their Solicitors have direct upfront negotiations with each other.
In a contested property matter which is progressing through the court stages, mediation is often ordered by the court. This may occur by way of one of the Court’s Registrars’ conducting a Conciliation Certificate or by an approved private mediator conducting external mediation.
If an agreement is reached between former spouses prior to or during court action, consent orders are typically prepared by one of the Solicitors. The consent orders are signed by the parties and their Solicitors and lodged with the court. The Judge (or Magistrate in the Local Court) will make orders in chambers without the need for a court appearance. The Judge, however, must be satisfied the consent orders are properly drafted and represent a fair and equitable resolution of the matter.
It is very important to obtain information and advice from an experienced family lawyer early in the settlement dispute and often it is recommended advice be received prior to, or immediately following separation.
As with contested parenting matters, legal costs and delays in litigated property cases are significant. When considering settlement of a property matter a party must always take into account the costs they have incurred to date and the costs of progressing the matter further by court action. Making property settlement decisions is like making a business decision. Continuing with Court action because “of the principle of the matter” is usually a very expensive and ultimately unrewarding experience.