If your relationship has broken down, some of the most challenging conversations that you must have with your ex-partner are to do with the future arrangements and care for your children and the division of your property.
Sometimes communication between you and your ex-partner is so potentially explosive, fraught and tense that it can feel almost impossible to find your way through the differing opinions and upset to reach a bearable, workable resolution.
And yet, in order for you both to move forward with your lives, and to look after your children in a way that takes care of their emotional, psychological and practical needs it is imperative that you find answers that you can live with.
If you and your ex-partner cannot find reasonable solutions to your parenting arrangements and property division, then your matter may need to end up in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for a judge to decide your arrangements for you.
If you have no other choice but to have your matter end up in court be prepared for an expensive, lengthy and stressful process. Mediation aims to prevent your circumstances from reaching court.
What is Mediation?
Did you know that mediation can be as informal and relaxed as inviting a family member or friend to help you and your ex-partner to discuss the things that you disagree on? Mediation can also be a more formal process whereby you agree on a professional mediator to take you through the mediation process.
While there is a financial cost to you and/or your ex-partner, there are many benefits to having a professionally trained mediator to help you to find sometimes out-of-the-box, creative, and unique ways to overcome even the most seemingly impossible roadblocks. Afterall, it is the job of professional mediators to know how to assist you and your ex-partner to communicate well enough to attempt to resolve even the most challenging, difficult and frustrating situations.
Here are six super savvy reasons it might be well worth getting your mind around mediation to help you to resolve the stressful sticking points in coming to your financial and parenting agreements:
1. More Money in Your Pocket
It is well-known that long, drawn out court proceedings that involve substantial legal fees even before family matters can be filed chew up money faster than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (if you can say it!). For most people, the money that is spent on legal and court fees could be put to fine use building a new life and taking care of your children. Of course, in some situations, court is an excellent option. However, the relief of sorting out your prickly issues in mediation and being able to move on is a prize worth some of the compromises that mediation might ask of you.
2. Quicker Outcomes – Mediation Saves You Months (And Months …)
Up there with saving you money, mediation offers a much faster way to resolve your difficult situation. This means that mediation gives you more time to attend to starting your life afresh by providing a fairly immediate platform to address the problem areas in your property and parenting agreements, draft those agreements, sign them, and you can move on.
3. More Clarity on What Actually Matters to You (and Your Ex-)
The process of preparing for mediation and then going through a professionally led mediation with a skilled mediator is valuable because it can help you to get really clear about what really matters to you, what you can agree to compromise on, and what your not-negotiables are. The mediation process also helps to shake out what is most important to your ex-partner and where your ex- is prepared to give. Even in the emotional and high-stakes environment of what can be messy, moody, mucky, and sad separation – for both of you and your children – a professional mediator can often help you to see life more clearly.
What more clarity means might be gold, for you. While you might have to yield on some aspects, you also stand to gain the certainty and relief that signing off on your agreement can bring – even if not quite everything in your financial and parenting arrangements is what you originally wanted. Mediation may bring you to a space where you can rebuild, rethink and – start to relax into your fresh life beyond the split.
4. More Autonomy – More Say
While it is true that mediation might mean that you may not end up with everything that you want in the way that you want it, mediation definitely means that you have a much greater degree of control in the result of the mediation than you would if your dispute had to be decided by a judge. Going to court is a lottery. Things may or may not go your way and your bank balance and stress levels will certainly be lower and higher – in that order. Less money, more worry.
The Mediator will work with you (and you will be supported by our Anumis Legal Dream Team on the day, if you want) to make sure that your voice is heard, your needs considered and the best interests of your children on the table. You get to be a key part of the mediation process and make decisions that are ultimately just that – your choices, your decisions. Even if, at the end of the day, you walk away without coming to an agreement, that’s up to you. Court is different. A judge will decide for you.
5. Keep out of Court
Good mediators are known for reminding people who choose to remain stuck on either side of a sky-high fence and disagree, that the ultimate result of intransigent disagreement is court. That means court proceedings, with all of the built-in cost, stress and time for both you and your ex-partner.
Our Australian family law system encourages couples who are separating to come to their own arrangements to care for their children through discussion, asking a family member or friend to assist, attending informal mediation, or by participating in a special family mediation process under the Family Law Act 1975, known as Family Dispute Resolution. (FDR)
If you are in a situation where you or your children are not safe, or for many reasons it is not possible to mediate, then you could consider Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). In fact, under Australian Family Law you must give FDR a go before you can apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for parenting orders. Here are some reasons that would exempt you from having to meet this compulsory requirement:
- if your issue is urgent
- in the case of child abuse or family violence
- if you are responding to an application that has been filed in court
- if you are formalising your parenting and/ or property agreements through ‘consent orders’
- if you or your ex-partner has breached and shown a serious disregard for a court order made in the previous twelve (12) months
- if you or your ex-partner cannot participate effectively such as if you are incapacitated or you are in a geographic location that makes your participation difficult
6. Move On
If you and your ex-partner can come to an agreement, have your parenting and/or property agreements drafted, and you can both sign on the dotted lines, you can move on with your life as you want to live it. Even if you are not quite sure how you want to live it beyond being part of a couple, at least you can begin to shape a space to figure that out. One of the main benefits of a successful mediation is that you can move on.
Do you have to attend mediation alone?
You do not have to be alone with your ex-partner and the mediator. At Anumis Legal you have the support on the day of either Dr John Cronin or Nadine Love, or you can choose to have both of the Anumis Legal Dream Team present with you to ensure that you make legally sound decisions as well as doing what is right for your financial future and for the future arrangement for care of your children.
If you would like to discuss mediation, or you have any questions related to Family Law or Commercial Law, you are welcome to email Nadine Love on email@example.com or Dr. John on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07 5455 6347 for your complimentary chat.