Family Mediation

There is a big push by the Australian Legal System to get people to attend family mediation to sort out their problems. Mediation is a faster alternative to the court system, however it may not resolve all of your issues.

Do I have to go through family mediation?

If your dispute involves children, it is almost compulsory that the parties attempt family mediation before going to court. After attempting family mediation you will be issued with a certificate that shows you attended and attempted to mediate, allowing you to begin proceedings in court. This certificate is often referred to as a Section 60I certificate.
When you start proceedings in court, you will be asked to provide a copy of the Section 60I certificate. There are only a few exceptions where you will not need a Section 60I certificate.

 

Relationships Australia can provide information on counselling and mediation – they offer family mediation services across Australia.

Can I avoid attending family mediation?

If you are involved in a parenting matter, most of the time you’ll need to attend family mediation. Only in certain circumstances, you will be able to file an application to the court without having a Section 60I certificate.

 

Those circumstances are usually if the case is very urgent, or where there is child abuse or domestic violence involved.

 

If you are involved in a property matter, you are not required to attend family mediation before starting a court application, nevertheless, it is very likely that at some point the court will make an order for you to undertake some form of mediation.

How do I prepare for family mediation?

You must ensure that you walk into your mediation session well prepared with a list of:

 

  • Everything that you have already agreed on
  • Points that need to be discussed and finalised
  • Ideas that you have that may resolve the issues at hand

 

To get the best result from family mediation you need to try and stay as emotionally calm as possible, which is often easily said than done. You should prepare yourself for the hurtful words and attacks that may be thrown into the discussion, but always remember what your end objective and goal is.

 

We highly encourage both parties to obtain legal advice before or during a mediation session to ensure both parties are aware of their rights and if their requests are reasonable or not.

 

Lastly, do not feel pressured into accepting anything that you are unhappy with or that you know you will be unable to comply with. For example, if you know you won’t be able to drop off your children at your ex’s house at 3pm on Sundays because they have a soccer game at 1pm, then don’t agree! If you make an agreement and then breach it later on, the court will see you as unreliable and will look disfavorably upon you in the future.

What happens if we can’t come to an agreement at mediation?

The mediator involved in the family mediation will either end the session or ask both parties to attend a second mediation session to clarify further issues.

 

Some points may be agreed to at mediation, whilst others may remain in dispute. Reaching an agreement on some issues is better than having more points to argue in court.

 

If mediation is unsuccessful you will need to start planning on going to court and protecting your rights through the legal system.