A parenting mediation involves engaging a neutral third party who is trained and experienced in working with separated parents to assist them reach agreements where they have previously been unable to do so.
The mediator facilitating the discussion is required to be a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) registered with the Attorney General’s Office. Only these mediators are able to issue Section 60I Certificate which allows parents to progress to Court if they are unable to reach agreements. S60I’s are issued post mediation and you can request a certificate from your mediator. The certificates are valid for 12 months.
We recommended that you seek legal advice to help you understand your legal rights when you separate for both parenting and property matters.
Parenting and property mediations provide a platform for creating your agreements. If you are able to reach agreement without lawyers or the courts then you can lodge the necessary forms to formalise your arrangement.
This link to the Family Court has lots of useful templates. http://www.familycourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fcoaweb/forms-and-fees/court-forms/diy-kits/
It is preferable not to, but sometimes it may be possible. We don’t like to mix up parenting matters with property matters. The two are regulated by different parts of the family law legislation and are measured against different benchmarks.
Property mediators do not need to be registered or qualified as a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP). Property mediators are not compelled to comply with any specific accreditation requirements. We do recommend that your mediator does have basic accreditation though. If you don’t know, just ask them.
A parenting mediation is recommended where parents cannot agree on decisions impacting a child’s short and long term future that are important to you.
You may not be able to decide on things like; time spent with each parent, where the child lives, what child-care or school the child goes to and their educational well being (i.e homework), what extra-curricular activities the child engages in, third parties engaged with the child (i.e babysitters, extended family, new partners), the financial care of the child, the child’s health and well-being (nutrition, doctor and specialist appointments).
Through the process of mediation we create a neutral space where you can talk through your issues, create options and make commitments. We are not attached to the content of your problem or the type of issues that you have.
The problem isn’t important, what is important is that you are given the opportunity and the grace to work through them and come to an agreement. This is your opportunity to be engaged in a process that will give you the best opportunity to find closure with the past and create workable solutions for the future.
With more and more marriages ending in divorce, many children involved struggle to fully understand the reasons why their parents are splitting up, especially as often the announcement comes as a complete surprise to the kids. But when your kids seek the reasons behind the divorce how honest should you be?
We can explain how best to navigate the challenging area of breaking the news of a separation or divorce to children, while taking into consideration the best interests of the child and their feelings.
When children ask ‘why,’ they are really asking if there is a way their parents could stay together. It’s a natural question but it can open up lots more ‘why’ questions from kids. However since the decision has already been made, answering these types of questions honestly without laying blame on the other parent can become difficult.
Getting into a discussion of the mechanics of the marriage breakdown can force children to process a whole range of adult problems that they shouldn’t really have to deal with. Answering the reasons behind the break-up could only help the child to try and fix things, and that’s not their job.
Before making the announcement it’s important that both parents agree on what they are going to say and break the news together if possible. As difficult as it might be it’s essential that the message is delivered consistently and made directly, while keeping emotion at bay. A good place to start is something like this:
“Your father and I have decided we are not going to live together anymore. We both want different things from our relationship and have tried but have been not able to agree on right answers – that’s why we’ve both decided to split up.”
It’s important to express to children that while the split will mean some changes in the future, the divorce has nothing to do with them and the announcement doesn’t change the love that both parents have for them.
Most family dispute resolutions practitioners agree that at this stage it’s important only to give the necessary details and keep things simple. The announcement will be enough for a child to process, without their parents mentioning they don’t make each other happy anymore – this can cause anxiety in a child thinking they will may be left too if they can’t make their parents happy.
Choosing the words carefully is very important. If the reasons behind the divorce are because of lack of intimacy or infidelity,obviously these are not appropriate to share with the child.
Depending on your child’s age, the reasons behind the separation, and where the child has noticed signs of fighting or arguing, you may be able to be more open as the reasons behind the divorce. However, it’s still important to not to start pointing fingers and placing blame. This will only make kids feel caught in the middle and causes more harm than good. Keep the explanation neutral and explain it’s a mutual decision.
In the weeks following the announcement, it’s important to spare kids the details. This means not talking negatively about the other parent, leaving divorce papers out of sight, and having discussions with friends about the other parent away from kids.
For parents who are having difficulty making arrangements regarding shared parenting, we can help.
Call Michael today on 0419 679 779
If domestic violence has occurred, we may recommend not going ahead with a mediation. A mediator who is a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners can issue a section 60I (b) certificate if they assess mediation as being inappropriate.
Often we get requests to proceed with mediation despite disclosures of domestic violence. This is because some parents believe that the Court process will further escalate their conflict and they are looking for a less confrontational approach.
Where parents want to proceed to mediation under those circumstances we can facilitate mediations and put in structures to help keep the parties safe during the process (such as shuttle or telephone mediations). Where there is a serious risk to the safety of the children or the parties, then parents may be compelled to use the Court processes whilst accessing broader support services.
Mediation vs Court
We believe mediation is a fast and cost effective way for a couple to come to an agreement about their children and property.
Court is always an option but is generally only used as a last resort for very high conflict parents or parents who are dealing with violence, drug / alcohol abuse or other issues that require a more structured framework to manage issues of safety for the children.
Going through court can be a time consuming process – up to 2 years. Evidence also shows that parents who engage in the Court process and arbitration will damage their relationship even further.
If you do intend to go to Court do your homework. Ask the following questions of an expert:
After you have found the answers to the above, look at what processes are available to assist families transition through this time and choose a process that you consider will work for you, your ex-partner and your children’s future.
Most lawyers will want to look after your interests and will naturally gravitate to mediators that they know, have pre-existing relationships with or have worked with before. However, a good lawyer can work well with any mediator and should encourage you to look, compare and choose a mediator that works for you.
Your lawyer should be working with you to seek a preferred mediator and may guide you by getting you to contact different mediators, ask questions about the mediator’s skills, experience, qualifications, cost and availability.
You are paying for the mediator and so ultimately you get to choose who you want to put forward to the other party to work with. You can instruct your lawyer to use your preferred mediators (rather than their preferred mediators).
Michael can provide his profile, contact details, and costs directly to you, your ex-partner and / or your lawyers.
There are many different types of mediators. For parenting mediations (mediations about the children) you require a qualified and accredited Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (FDRP) because only FDRP’s can issue you with a section 60I certificate. Section 60I certificates are required if you choose to pursue legal action at a later date.
For property mediations you do not require a FDRP, but your mediation should be facilitated by a nationally accredited mediator. Property and parenting mediations should usually be two separate mediations.
Try to arrange to speak with your mediator prior to choosing one. Some questions you may want to ask your mediator include:
Mediators fees can vary between no charge (some Family Relationship Centres – FRCs) to $5,000 per day or more. The cost of the mediator depends on their skills, experience, qualifications and the level of complexity of your circumstances.
Most mediators offer either a fixed mediation rate and / or an hourly rate with a set minimum hours. A basic two person mediation consists of pre-mediation (Intake) sessions with each party, the mediation, the drafting of a mediation agreement and a S60I certificate.
Most mediators can quote a minimum number of hours to cover these aspects of your mediation. The average cost for a mediation at Private Mediation is among the most competitive in the market. We will give you a quote for services, which are valid for 30 days.
Mediators are required by law to make an assessment about whether the mediation is appropriate in the first instance. This is called an Intake Session and we usually conduct them over the phone. It is also an opportunity to help you prepare for your mediation, answer any questions that you may have, and alleviate any of your concerns.