When people separate, they often need to decide how they'll have contact with their children or divide property. Sometimes, those decisions can turn into disputes. The Family Court prefers former partners to sort things out between themselves, and some people do that. But if that doesn't work, mediation can help. Our Family and Child Mediation Service engages professionally qualified family mediators with plenty of experience in guiding the parties to an agreement. The Australian National Mediator Standards can be viewed here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is mediation?
Mediation is an alternative way of resolving disputes where the parties sit down together and, guided by mediators, negotiate a practical and fair solution to their problem. It gives everyone the opportunity to tell their side of the story, define issues, consider options, and settle on a solution that suits the parties. Mediation is guided by experienced and professionally qualified mediators. They're impartial and don't give any advice or make any decisions for the parties; they're there to help parties focus on the best way forward.
If mediation is successful, the result is a mutual agreement that is written in the parties own words. This isn't legally binding, but it can be used as a basis for court applications.
How does mediation help settle property disputes?
Our family mediators have many years of experience in mediating disputes over property and finances. It's a good idea to get legal advice before trying to reach a property settlement – that way, you'll go into a mediation aware of your options and your legal rights and responsibilities so you can make informed decisions.
How does mediation help settle parenting disputes?
Separation may end a relationship between partners, but your relationship with your children continues – just in a different form. Our family mediators place a lot of emphasis on helping parents to reach an agreement that's in the best interests of their children. They'll also explain “equal shared parental responsibility” which means that both parents have an equal role in making decisions about the important issues that affect their children, like their education, health care, and emotional wellbeing. We'll discuss how equal shared parental responsibility can work in your case, and help the parties formulate the best possible parenting plan that's unique to them as parents.
How much does family mediation cost?
A pre-mediation appointment costs $75 per party. Mediation costs vary depending on the type of dispute.
- For property disputes, mediation costs $500 per party for up to two appointments.
- For parenting disputes, mediation costs $225 per party for up to two appointments.
- For property & parenting disputes combined, mediation costs $675 per party for up to three appointments.
Once the parties have agreed to mediation, we'll book a separate pre-mediation interview for each party. This is an opportunity for you to tell your side of the story without the other party there. It's also a good time to ask any questions or raise any issues you're unsure about. The mediator will explain how mediation works so you're fully prepared. If care arrangements for your children need to be worked out, you'll be given a parenting plan checklist to help you address the important decisions you have to make about that.
After the pre-mediation interview, we'll complete an assessment of suitability for mediation. If mediation proceeds, we'll book a mediation appointment for the parties to attend together, in the presence of our mediators. We use a co-mediation model with two mediators to make sure the process is balanced and unbiased.
For more information about family and child mediation at CAB, contact us.