It is important to adequately prepare yourself for family mediation. It can be your chance to obtain an outcome that is tailored to your needs and preferences, and can save yourself time, money and stress involved with going to Court. Here are some tips to help you get the best out of the process.
Write a list of what it is that you want to achieve from the mediation. In your list, you should prioritise the issues in order of importance. Why are they important to you? Consider where you are ‘coming from’. You must be able to explain your reasons at the mediation.
Some examples of what you may consider important to you are receiving an apology from the other party, getting a financial settlement, or maintaining an amicable relationship with your former spouse.
Make sure you also think about what the other people involved in the dispute may want out of the mediation. Brainstorm and write down the possibilities. Are they different to what you want to achieve from the mediation? What would you be willing to compromise on?
Be realistic in what can be achieved. Is what you want possible if both parties want very different outcomes? Would it be possible to achieve your wants if the dispute progressed to Court? It may be helpful to talk to someone you trust who is not involved in the dispute. They can give you an outside perspective on the issues involved.
It is advised to seek legal advice before attending mediation. This is so you can make a good decision regarding any agreements; especially if they involve legal rights and responsibilities. A lawyer can advise you as to what the law is and how it applies to your situation. Additionally, a lawyer can tell you the likely outcome if the dispute proceeds to Court, and how much time and money going to Court would cost.
You should not ignore how you feel about the process. It is normal and understandable to feel hurt, angry, stressed or anxious about the dispute and attending family mediation. You can work through these emotions through options such as talking to a trusted outsider to the dispute or writing down your feelings.
Think about how your feelings might affect you during in the mediation. You can consider asking to have a support person at the mediation if you feel vulnerable. If it is required, you can also ask the mediator for a break during meditation if you feel overwhelmed.
You should be careful of your tone and the way you communicate during mediation. It is not a place for aggressive tactics and game-playing. Instead, you should get into the right headspace and enter the meditation with good faith. You should show the mediator and other parties involved that you are making a genuine effort to discuss and compromise.
You can practise using calm language. Ensure you ask questions if you don’t understand anything. Try not to interrupt the mediator or other parties when they are speaking. Listen attentively at all times when other people are speaking. When it is your turn to speak, explain your point of view clearly and positively.
For example, instead of saying ‘You make me very angry and frustrated’, you can say ‘I feel upset when you….’