Family law mediation process answers from an expert mediator

When a couple is separating or determining property division or custody arrangements, mediation is an integral part of the process. In September 2021, the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court of Australia merged to become the new Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCA). When that happened, the new combined court made a lot of changes. One of those was to re-emphasise the importance of dispute resolution, particularly mediation, to resolve family law disputes. 

In fact, now the court insists that parties make an effort to resolve matters out of court. 

This isn’t a bad thing! As expert family lawyers we have seen many disputes handled in court proceedings and many handled via mediation. We believe that it’s always best to avoid the courtroom where ever possible, whether in family law or otherwise. The mediation process allows you to do that, and avoid the cost and emotional turmoil that a court process would entail. 

Our team is incredibly lucky to have Julie Puntoriero as one of our mediators. She’s an expert mediator and across all elements of the family law mediation process. And she’s here to answer all our mediation process questions.

Family law mediation process answers from an expert mediator

What is mediation?

‘Mediation is a process used to help two or more people in dispute to work through their issues and come up with their own resolution. I am the impartial, mediation trained professional who sits with them and assists them to reach their settlement.’

What are the benefits of mediation?

‘One of the biggest benefits of the mediation process is that it empowers the parties to come up with their own resolution and take control of their situation. If their dispute ends up in court, they lose their power to decide their own outcome. The costs on their time, mental health and finances is also extensive, and often unnecessary.’

What other types of ADR processes are there?

‘There is a spectrum of ADR processes available to parties. At one end you have negotiation, mediation and conciliation. If they don’t work, you can investigate expert evaluation, arbitration and litigation. It depends on your dispute and which option would work for you, as all ADR processes are available and some may be more suited than others to your circumstances.’

Why is mediation different/better?

‘Mediation is an off-the-record, user-friendly process that allows people to say what they need to in a confidential and safe space. It gives them the time and space to work through their dispute together, with the possibility of having a future and ongoing relationship on their terms. 

It can be healing for people to go through the mediation process. They’re better able to understand the dispute. And it can shine a light on the priorities and needs of the parties. Short answer, there is always a benefit to mediating.

What role does the mediator play?

'As the mediator, I am an impartial person who sits with both parties and facilitates a conversation between them. It is done with the intention of assisting them to reach an agreement, or work through a dispute. I am the eyes and ears in the mediation and the person who supports the parties in dispute on the path to their resolution.’

Is mediation successful?

‘Absolutely. There is always a positive outcome, whether it be big or small. It always assists in one way or another. It also has future positive ripple effects, as it often encourages an agreement later on, if one was not reached on the day.

My motto – when in doubt, mediate!

Mediating with our expert family lawyers

When it comes time for you to enter into a family law mediation process, our experts are here to support you. We’ll help you prepare for the mediation and make sure you know just what to expect. 

We’ll also show you how to find an excellent mediator who has the right skills and experience to help both parties come to an agreement. The right mediator will of course have mediation expertise, and they may also have additional qualifications that could help – such as experience in a particular subject matter, or as an expert in a particular style of mediation.

At the end of the day, we’ll help you get prepared for your mediation so that you’re comfortable and confident in the mediation process. If you really aren’t able to achieve a resolution at mediation, we’ll help you take the next steps towards resolving your dispute too. 

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