Family mediation is a process by which family members work together with a trained mediator to settle issues around separation, divorce and parenting. It is an alternative to litigation, in which the decision-making power passes to a judge, and is often quicker, less stressful and much cheaper.
Unlike the adversarial system of court, where emotions are viewed as obstacles to settlement, a mediator will encourage and help participants find practical solutions that are tailored to their circumstances, and based on their individual needs. It is not unusual for families who start the process embroiled in extreme tension to end mediation sessions reminiscing about happier times.
The process of mediation involves meeting in joint and private sessions with the mediator, to explore the underlying issues. It is normal for repeat meetings to be needed, to facilitate communication, uncover hidden issues and emotions, listen to stories, perform reality checks and move the parties toward their chosen reconciliation.
Unlike the adversarial system of court, the mediator will not represent either party or their legal counsel. This is to allow the participants to focus on their own needs and what is best for the whole family. However, the mediator may provide each participant with a list of options and suggestions to consider. They can choose to accept those that are agreeable, and the outcome is an agreement that is enforceable in court. In many cases, the agreement will also include information that can be passed on to the parties’ respective lawyers for their consideration in preparing their legal advice. family mediation