Mediation is a private process available to parties in a family law matter, where a neutral third person, a mediator, helps the parties discuss issues, set a common agenda to resolve those issues and facilitate discussions to resolve the dispute. 

Mediation is a voluntary process, and the mediator has no decision-making power.

The mediator's role is to provide parties with a structure that may help them to reach their own agreement. Parties may attend mediation either with or without a lawyer present. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options.

Mediators are often engaged to assist parties in dispute, to resolve issues around:

What if I don’t want to go to mediation?

Mediation is, for the most part, a voluntary process. It is not necessarily the right approach for everyone.

However, if you wish to apply to a Family Law Court for parenting orders, mediation is a compulsory step prior to making this application.

If the mediation is unsuccessful, you can still apply to the court for orders. The mediator will provide you with a certificate confirming that mediation was attempted.

What if there is alleged or actual family violence?

Mediation is not the best process for all family law matters; particularly in circumstances where there is family violence.

However, if you still wish to consider mediation as opposed to court proceedings, the mediation can be held under conditions that consider your safety; for example, you and the other party can attend separate, non-face-to-face meetings.

Is the outcome of mediation binding?

It can be; with agreements reached at mediation resulting in options to jointly enter into parenting agreements or formalise parenting and property orders by consent.

If you do have a mediation and it is successful in coming to an arrangement, it is recommended that you seek to have a lawyer assist you with drafting consent orders or other legal documents such as a binding financial agreement.

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