Guest blog post by Andrew Crooke, Director of Family Law at Murdoch Lawyers.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) includes several methods. One such method available to separating parties is mediation. Mediation has become more popular over the years, as it is quick, affordable and confidential. As the name suggests, mediation is basically a negotiation expedited by a neutral third party. Mediators do not make any decisions, they just facilitate the negotiation. They also determine when and where the mediation process takes place, who is in attendance, and who pays for the mediation.
Usually, mediation is initiated voluntarily by the parties themselves. Sometimes it is required as per the statutes, court orders or contractual terms. It is a common practice in family, housing or small claim courts.
To ensure that the mediation process is successful, here are a few things that you should check with your family lawyer, as advised by the most experienced lawyers in Brisbane:
- Agree To Mediate: The most important thing is for both parties to be willing to mediate. Meditation is not about always getting your way. There may be various things where you just have to ‘agree’. You need to think rationally and put your emotions aside.
- Learn About Mediation Process: Before you get to mediation, it’s wise to learn about the process itself. Consider visiting some mediators to help you learn the process. Different states have different laws, so make sure you’re learning the basic guidelines and rules for your state. For instance, if you are living in Toowoomba, it would be wise to search for lawyers in Toowoomba as they properly understand the state laws.
- Write Your Own Schedule: Even though you may need to accommodate the other party’s schedule, you should draft your own schedule. Mention any important work and family obligations that you have, so that your mediators can make sure the mediation schedule works for you.
- List Out What You Want: You can’t get what you want unless you know what you want from the mediation process. Make a proper list of all your demands and claims. Take the time you need, and think clearly as it can be complex to decide what you want to hold on to vs. what you can let go. As a part of the negotiation, you need to figure out your acceptable terms. You probably won’t get everything you wish for, so you need to have bottom-line goals.
- Gather Relevant Documents: You may need to present certain documents and records to support your points and claims. Take your time to collect all the relevant documents, and make sure to make a copy of all the documents for yourself. Depending on the goals of mediation, the records that you need may vary. For instance, if you are mediating for child custody or child support, you want to ensure a healthy relationship with your child. Prepare a brief outline of important life events for your children, their school records, health reports and anything else that can be useful.
- Hire Your Mediator Carefully: One of the most important decisions to make is who you hire as your mediator. Despite the fact that they will not be involved directly in decision making, a good experienced attorney can make a big difference in ensuring a positive mediation outcome.
About the author: Andrew Crooke is a Nationally Accredited Mediator with almost two decades of experience in dealing with different aspects of family law. He serves as a Director and an Accredited Specialist in Family Law team at Murdoch Lawyers, a top family law firm in Brisbane and Toowoomba.