Meaningful Family Mediation: What Does It Mean And How Does It Work?

Tailored solutions to meet your needs

Facilitating a way to provide meaningful outcomes after separation is at the heart of our business. Our services are dedicated to helping you resolve conflict in a professional, ethical and timely manner. Successful family mediation achieves positive, meaningful outcomes for all the parties involved, without putting a strain on your finances.

We arm you with the right information and guide you in your decision making to keep you and your family out of court.

So, whether you’re searching for family mediation services Townsville or medication NSW, we are by your side and ready to support you and family and deliver meaningful outcomes.

What is mediation?

To define mediation, you need to look at the core of its function, which is not to force a decision upon the parties but to facilitate a constructed conversation where the parties can discern their own outcome by way of making decisions that reflect their children’s and their best interests.

Essentially, mediation is a structured and interactive process where a neutral third-party, a mediator, facilitates an opportunity for parties to resolve conflict. Mediators will employ tailored and tested communication and negotiation strategies to help the parties reach a successful arrangement. The process can be successful when all parties involved in the dispute participate actively, without coercion to resolve conflict. 

How does mediation work?

Mediation is a process where parties discuss their disputes with a trained, impartial professional who facilitates an opportunity for conflict resolution. The parties involved work towards a solution as an expert mediator guides them through the process.

Sometimes mediation may occur via phone, skype or zoom between the mediator and all parties involved if appropriate. However, mediations are generally conducted in person.

We facilitate a safe environment to enable parties to discuss their issues with a view to resolution. Our expert team understands that family disputes and separation are rarely simple and represent a difficult and emotionally challenging time for all parties.

Who is present at the mediation?

Generally, parties involved include lawyers, the mediator and any other professionals previously agreed upon. This may include child consultants, psychologists, financial advisors and other expert third party professionals.

During mediation, parties may or may not be represented by counsel. It’s up to the parties involved and generally subject to the type of conflict. In the case of family mediation, there can be a number of people present alongside co-mediators as discussed above.

Can I bring a friend to mediation?

Anyone, be it a friend, family member or professional can be present in the mediation room during the discussion as long as it’s agreed by all parties involved. 

What is mediation in law?

In Australia, under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) parties are required to make a genuine effort to resolve issues before they can go to court unless there is an exemption granted by the mediator such as family violence. Thus, mediation is a process whereby parties come together and construct an agreement which can be formalised and made legally binding by the courts.

This applies to family law mediation as well where a parenting plan, a good faith agreement, is constructed which is recognised by the Family Court despite not binding the parties legally. A parenting plan can be turned into a Consent Order- a legally binding agreement.

The parties involved can terminate a mediation at any time, and all information discussed within the process is confidential within the limits of the law. For parties to be able to proceed to court, they need to be issued with a section 60i certificate by the mediator stating they have made a genuine effort to mediate or that mediation is not suitable in the circumstances.

Do I need a lawyer for mediation?

Generally, most mediation processes don’t require any legal representation; however, it is up to the parties involved. For parties participating in a mediation regarding the division of property, legal advice is recommended. You are entitled to have legal practitioners present if you so desire.

Is mediation binding?

It is non-binding by nature. For mediation to serve its function, the parties must reach an agreement by way of their own decisions to resolve conflict. To conclude any settlement, all parties must voluntarily agree upon the solution.

A mediator is not like a judge or arbitrator, they are not a decision-maker; instead, they facilitate a solution-focused conversation through specialised communication and negotiation strategies that are tailored to each family and each mediation.

What are the stages of mediation?

Facilitative mediation is a structured process and requires a nationally accredited mediator to implement impartial communication techniques to keep parties focused on resolution.

However, before you enter the process, we believe you should understand the normal structure of the mediation process:

  1. Agreement to Mediate;
  2. The opening statements; 
  3. Agenda setting; 
  4. Exploration; 
  5. Option Generation;
  6. Negotiation; and
  7. Agreements.

These stages and the process, in general, will be discussed with you in your initial individual consult with the mediator before the mediation. Each party to the mediation can also break to speak with the mediator privately or a support person if they feel the need at any time during the mediation. 

What will the mediation look like?

Generally, both parties are in the same room for the mediation. This allows parties to hear directly from one another which can be an empowering and constructive experience. Alternatively, parties can be in different rooms for the mediation in what is called a ‘shuttle mediation’. This means that the mediator will be going between the parties who will not see or speak with each other directly. 

Shuttle mediations are generally facilitated to support parties who may find it difficult and emotionally distressing to be positioned in the same room. At Meaningful Mediation, the mediator carefully discerns each case to determine whether a joint or shuttle mediation will best support the parties with the understanding that no party is ever forced to be in the same room. 

Is mediation cheaper than going to court?

Family mediation is considerably less expensive than going to court. Engaging a private mediator, with legal knowledge is significantly more cost-effective than hiring a lawyer and proceeding to court.

The mediation process can have a quicker turnaround compared to a court case which in the current legal landscape of family law, can take 12 to 24 months to complete. Therefore, not only is it typically a more cost-effective way to resolve conflict, but it also avoids the emotionally and financially taxing implications of going to court, particularly in family law matters.  

Why Meaningful Mediation is right for you

Conflict is never easy, particularly in the family. Our mediators understand that family separation is one of, if not the most challenging time in an individual’s life. Each family is a unique entity, with a unique set of problems that surface when a separation occurs. When parties are supported by ill-equipped professionals, it can derail negotiations and pit parties against each in a hostile and adversarial long-standing legal battle.

We support parties sensitively and professionally so that they can move on with life knowing that they were able to settle their property or parenting matter with dignity and mutual respect. This allows many parties to have an ongoing relationship and rebuild the trust and respect that is often damaged when a separation occurs.

As part of our meaningful service, we have professional mediators who are experts in family law, conflict resolution and psychology to assist you. The mediator acts impartially and supports both parties by keeping them focused on the future and guide them through the decision-making process. 

Need support? Contact us today.

We offer our mediation services in the following locations:

  • NSW
  • Perth
  • Victoria
  • Gold Coast
  • QLD

As a family mediation centre, we specialise in Queensland services, such as family mediation services Townsville and mediation gold coast. Chat to us today!