What Types of Family Law Matters are Suitable to be Resolved with Mediation

Clarity Lawyers Blog No Fault Divorce

Mediation is an effective and increasingly popular method for resolving family law disputes.

It involves the parties involved working with a neutral third party to reach an agreement on various issues.

At Clarity Lawyers, we believe in the power of mediation to resolve disputes amicably and with less stress than traditional court proceedings.

This article will explore what mediation is, how the process works, and why it is effective. We will also provide a comprehensive list of family law matters that can be resolved through mediation and offer examples of scenarios where mediation can be particularly beneficial.

So, keep reading to learn if mediation could work for you.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution where a neutral third party, known as a mediator, assists the parties in negotiating a mutually acceptable agreement.

In the context of family law, mediation is often referred to as family dispute resolution (FDR). Family dispute resolution practitioners are specially trained to help separating families resolve disputes related to parenting arrangements, property settlements, and other family law matters.

How the Mediation Process Works

Understanding the mediation process can help parties involved feel more prepared and confident. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how family dispute resolution works:

Initial Consultation and Preparation

The mediation process begins with an initial consultation where the mediator explains the process and assesses whether mediation is suitable for the case. This consultation may be done separately with each party to ensure that everyone understands what to expect and to address any concerns about safety, particularly in cases involving family violence or child abuse.

Mediation Sessions

During mediation sessions, the mediator facilitates discussions between the parties. These sessions can be conducted with both parties in the same room or separately if there are concerns about comfort or safety. The mediator helps the parties communicate effectively, identify issues, and explore possible solutions. The goal is to assist parties in reaching an agreement that is acceptable to both.

Reaching an Agreement

Once an agreement is reached, the mediator can help draft a written agreement that outlines the terms. This agreement can be made legally binding through consent orders, which are approved by the family court. This formal process ensures that the agreement is enforceable, providing peace of mind to both parties.

Why Mediation Works

Mediation is effective for several reasons:

  • Cost-Effective: Mediation is generally less expensive than court proceedings.
  • Less Stressful: The process is less adversarial and more collaborative, reducing stress for all parties involved.
  • Confidential: Mediation is a private process, unlike court proceedings which are often public.
  • Control: Parties have more control over the outcome compared to a court-imposed decision.
  • Emotional and Psychological Health: Mediation supports the emotional and psychological health of the parties by fostering a cooperative rather than combative environment.

Clarity Mediation

Types of Family Law Matters Suitable for Mediation

Mediation is a versatile process that can address a wide range of family law matters. Here are some of the issues that can be effectively resolved through mediation:

Child Custody and Parenting Arrangements

  • Establishing parenting plans
  • Modifying existing parenting orders
  • Determining where the child will live and how time will be shared between parents
  • Addressing holiday and vacation schedules

Child Support and Maintenance

  • Setting up child support agreements
  • Modifying existing child support payments
  • Resolving disputes over child-related expenses

Spousal Maintenance

Division of Property and Assets

  • Equitable distribution of marital property
  • Resolving disputes over financial resources and assets
  • Addressing property settlements

Financial Agreements

  • Creating binding financial agreements before, during, or after marriage
  • Modifying existing financial agreements

Relocation Disputes

  • Addressing the relocation of a parent with a child
  • Establishing new parenting arrangements in light of relocation

Grandparents’ Rights

  • Facilitating visitation arrangements for grandparents
  • Addressing disputes involving extended family members

Family Violence and Abuse (with Safeguards)

  • Resolving disputes in a controlled and safe environment
  • Ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place to protect victims

Modification of Existing Orders

  • Reviewing and modifying existing court orders to reflect changes in circumstances

Mediation can be a highly effective way to resolve these and other family law matters, helping parties reach agreements that are fair and tailored to their specific needs.

Scenario Examples of How Mediation Could Help

Mediation can be particularly beneficial in various family law scenarios. Here are a few examples of how mediation can assist in resolving disputes:

Scenario 1: Resolving Child Custody and Parenting Arrangements

Jane and Tom are separating and need to decide on custody arrangements for their two young children. Through mediation, they can discuss their children’s needs, their work schedules, and the children’s schooling. The mediator helps them create a parenting plan that allows both parents to spend quality time with their children, ensuring the kids’ emotional and psychological health is prioritised.

Scenario 2: Negotiating a Fair Division of Property and Assets

Emma and Jack are divorcing and need to divide their assets, including their family home, cars, and retirement accounts. In mediation, they can openly discuss their financial situation and agree on a fair division of their property. This process avoids the stress and expense of court proceedings and helps them reach an equitable settlement.

Scenario 3: Establishing or Modifying Child Support Agreements

Linda and Mark are separated and need to establish a child support agreement for their teenage son. Through mediation, they can review their financial resources and the child’s needs. The mediator assists them in negotiating a fair child support amount that reflects their circumstances, ensuring their child’s wellbeing is adequately supported.

Scenario 4: Addressing Relocation Disputes

Sarah wants to move to another city with her child due to a new job opportunity, but her ex-partner, Mike, disagrees with the move. Mediation allows them to discuss their concerns and find a compromise that considers the child’s best interests. They might agree on a new visitation schedule that maintains Mike’s relationship with the child while accommodating Sarah’s relocation.

Scenario 5: Managing Disagreements Over Spousal Maintenance

David and Rebecca are divorcing, and there is a disagreement over spousal maintenance. In mediation, they can discuss Rebecca’s need for financial support and David’s ability to pay. The mediator helps them negotiate a spousal maintenance agreement that provides Rebecca with the necessary support while considering David’s financial situation.

Clarity Mediation 1

When is Mediation Compulsory?

In Australia, mediation, often referred to as family dispute resolution (FDR), is a compulsory step in most family law matters before going to court. This requirement is designed to encourage separating families to resolve disputes amicably and reduce the emotional and financial burden of court proceedings.

Legal Requirements for Mediation

Under the Family Law Act, parties involved in disputes over parenting arrangements are generally required to attempt family dispute resolution before they can apply to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia for parenting orders. This involves attending mediation sessions with a family dispute resolution practitioner to try to reach an agreement.

Exceptions to Mandatory Mediation

While mediation is highly encouraged, there are certain circumstances where it may not be compulsory:

  • Family Violence or Child Abuse: If there are allegations of family violence, child abuse, or serious disregard for the safety of a party or child, mediation may be bypassed. The court will assess whether mediation is appropriate in these cases.
  • Urgency: Situations requiring immediate court intervention, such as urgent matters involving the child’s safety or welfare, may be exempt from mediation.
  • Previous Attempt at Mediation: If mediation has already been attempted and was unsuccessful, parties may proceed to court without further mediation sessions.

Importance of Mediation Certificates

If mediation is unsuccessful or deemed inappropriate, a family dispute resolution practitioner can issue a Section 60I certificate. This certificate is required when filing an application for parenting orders in the family court. It indicates that the parties have either attempted mediation in good faith or that mediation was not suitable due to specific circumstances.

How We Can Help

At Clarity Lawyers, we understand the importance of resolving family law disputes amicably and efficiently. Our experienced family law team is dedicated to providing comprehensive support throughout the mediation process, ensuring that your interests and those of your children are protected.

We offer support and guidance throughout the mediation process, from initial consultations to mediation sessions. Our goal is to help you understand the process, prepare effectively, and participate confidently. Our family dispute resolution experienced lawyers are skilled in facilitating discussions and helping parties reach mutually beneficial agreements.

At Clarity Lawyers, we are committed to helping you navigate the complexities of family law with confidence and peace of mind. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist you in resolving your family law matters through mediation.

Subscribe for all of the latest resources

Rli Samantha@2x
Samantha Miller

Samantha has been a lawyer since 2001 having followed in the steps of her father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. No one can say she didn’t know what she was getting into!

Initially admitted in 2001 as a solicitor in NSW and Australia, Samantha moved to the UK where she was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales in 2002. After working in several different areas of the law in large London firms, she determined that family law was her calling and hasn’t looked back.


Oap Close
Not in Newscastle, no problem
online consulations available

Share This

Select your desired option below to share a direct link to this page