Mediation and Resolving Disputes
Many disagreements can be resolved by discussion between the parents, but if that doesn’t work, you may like to try mediation.
Mediation is a confidential, voluntary process by which a discussion is facilitated with a mediator who acts as a neutral third party. The mediator will bring to bear their experience by providing information to the parents, and by discussing options. By bringing a third person into the room, sometimes it is possible to unlock a disagreement, or reach a compromise that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible.
Unless there is urgency or domestic violence, or other barriers to mediation, it is also not possible to go to court without going to see a mediator for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. This is a one to one session with a mediator which is a precursor to mediation. During the process, the mediator will find out about your situation, assess suitability for mediation and give information to you about how the process works.
Mediation can be used for all sorts of issues – from separation and financial issues to child arrangements and specific issues.
There are a few different models. Most mediators will meet three ways with the clients. If that is not possible, or one client doesn’t feel comfortable, it is often possible to conduct the session over video chat or to do “shuttle” mediation where the mediator shuttles between the parties. Where there is an impasse, it may be sensible to bring the lawyers into the mediation process.
Everything that is discussed in mediation is confidential, and the outcomes proposed and agreed are “without prejudice” which means they cannot be discussed if the case goes to court.
There are some excellent alternatives to mediation as well. Have a look at the other headings in this section for more details.