What is Mediation?
Mediation is a type of Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) that involves the use of a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who is trained in family law and collaborative practice, and assists separating partners in reaching an agreement. The mediator facilitates communication between both parties and helps them explore options that may help them reach a mutually agreeable conclusion.
Mediation is an important tool for those who are struggling with and having trouble communicating in relation to the children. A Mediation process includes all members of the family including parents and children.
Mediation can help families work together for the benefit of the children.
In mediation, you can find creative solutions that all parties are comfortable with. There will be less animosity between parents, which means everyone can spend more time together.
If parents cannot resolve their disputes on their own during mediation, then Family Mediation can always be contrasted with family law court proceedings. Going to court is a long, stressful and expensive process. The aim of Family Dispute Resolution is to avoid the situation reaching to this point and to ensure that parents create their own solutions, not ones imposed onto them by the courts.
What is Family Dispute Resolution?
Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a specialised kind of mediation designed to assist separating families in coming to their own arrangements. During FDR, the issues in dispute will be discussed and different choices considered by the family, with the primary emphasis on the needs of their children. A neutral and approved Family Dispute Resolution professional takes part in the FDR.
The main goal of the FDR is for participants to develop a parenting plan that establishes the future parenting arrangements they have agreed upon.
It’s a cost-effective and easy approach for separating families to resolve future parenting arrangements For further information, go to the Australian Government’s Family Relationships Online website or download the “Family Dispute Resolution Factsheet.”
In Australia, it is required under family law for separated parents to attempt Family Dispute Resolution before going to the family court to apply for parenting orders.
There are exemptions to this requirement, including:
- when you are formalising an agreement through ‘consent orders’
- where family violence or child abuse is a factor
- when you are responding to an application to court
- urgent issues
- a person is unable to participate effectively (for example, due to incapacity or geographical location), or
- a person has contravened and shown a serious disregard for a court order made in the last 12 months.
When FDR is not working, the FDR practitioner may suggest other options, such as family counselling.
What Happens During a Family Dispute Resolution Mediation Session?
During a session, a trained mediator can help families resolve their disputes in a more peaceful manner.
A trained mediation services professional typically facilitates communication between the parents to help them resolve conflicts and come to decisions that are beneficial for everyone. The mediator is impartial and does not take sides or offer advice. Additionally, the mediation process is entirely confidential. Because mediation is facilitated by a neutral third party it reduces any power imbalances that may be present in cases.
The mediation session typically involves the parents meeting. The Parents are encouraged to participate in the process as equally as possible. Each parent is able to express concerns, ask questions and suggest solutions, so that everyone understands what is being discussed. During the Family Dispute Resolution Mediation session there may be opportunities for for each parent to share their concerns, or each parent is encouraged to listen respectfully to each other’s perspectives about what is important for everyone involved.
The Mediation guided through the process by the mediator, who facilitates family discussion and manages any negotiations that need to take place. A Family Dispute Resolution Mediation issues parenting plans, schedules for children. The family mediation session allows everyone involved in the process to participate equally. It ensures that both parents agree on decisions made, and it reduces the need for formal court procedures. The mediation is a voluntary process and family members can withdraw at any time.
Sometimes it’s not suitable to have each person in the same room so the practitioner may arrange to go back and forth from different rooms. This is called ‘shuttle mediation’. Sometimes it is necessary for the mediator to talk individually with each party to help move issues along or to discuss options for negotiation.
The family law system encourages separated families to come to their own arrangements in caring for their children without going to court. This can be done in several different ways:
- discussion between the parents
- using a friend or family member to help
- informal general mediation
- using a special family mediation process covered under the Family Law Act 1975 called Family Dispute Resolution (FDR).
Are you ready to take the next step? Call Feenikx Counselling & Family Mediation on 0498 704 680 for a confidential discussion about commencing Family Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution.