There's a lot to sort out when two parties have separated and are heading toward a divorce. They'll need to untangle their affairs, figure out "who gets what", and may need to talk about financial support for one party going forward. Understandably, this can lead to a lot of confusion, some negativity and the development of an entrenched position. While this may be unavoidable, it's far from ideal, and both parties will need to come to some form of agreement before any divorce can be finalised. This leads to a specific process known as "mediation," and both parties will probably be required to engage. If you're in this position, what do you need to know about mediation, and how should you prepare for it?
Looking at Your Position
Family law in Australia requires both parties to mediate before going in front of a court for any form of discussion. This is basically a series of conversations with an intermediary (or the mediator) who is an experienced individual with knowledge of the law and this process.
Both parties will meet with the mediator and typically bring their lawyers along. The mediator will then set out the process and urge both parties to do their best to reach an agreement. Once initial comments have been made by each party (or their lawyer), the mediator will head for a separate room and will interview one person at a time (again with a lawyer).
The role of the mediator is not to find out who is in the right or the wrong, nor necessarily to force a conclusion. They will hear both sides of the argument and may then go back and forth between the parties with various recommendations. Hopefully, any major disagreements will melt away, and both parties will be able to reach a compromise.
What You Should Do
Before you attend any mediation, ensure that you fully understand the opposite party's position. You will likely have discussed the sticking points for some time before mediation and should also discuss the pros and cons with your lawyer. In some situations, your lawyer will put forward your position in a special paper for the mediator, with appropriate details.
What You Shouldn't Do
Don't go into mediation with an entrenched position, and don't look at this as a case of winners versus losers. If you go in with an open mind and the other party does the same, you are far more likely to reach a compromise that is acceptable to all parties.
What Happens Next
If you do reach a compromise, this will be set out in writing there and then, with a copy going to all parties. If you can't reach an agreement, you will eventually need to go in front of a court, and they may have to make some decisions on your behalf.
As you can see, this can be a complex matter, and you should always engage the services of an experienced family lawyer.
For more information about family law, contact a local company.