Youve separated – what is mediation and why do it

Some people see mediation as a box to tick when they separate, something they are required to try before they can receive a section 60i certificate and
file in court.

Mediation is so much more than that, and when you choose the right service or mediator as carefully as you would choose your family lawyer then you have
the best chance of working toward a negotiated agreement with your ex partner.

Mediation is a form of alternate dispute resolution, rather than legal letters going back and forth or having a judge decide the fate of your family, all
at immense expense, mediation is way to sit down in the same room with the help of a skilled professional who will assist both parents to hear the
other’s needs and concerns and guide them toward agreement.

Separated couples can use mediation to resolve parenting matters or to reach financial settlement once they have separated. Many newly separated couples,
even those living separated under one roof come to mediation to make short term arrangements such as:

Who will move out of the family home and when;

– How the children will spend time with each parent;

– How short term finances such as mortgage payments and school fees will be paid before a couple reaches a full financial settlement;

– How parents will communicate post separation.

Some parents use mediation well after separation and divorce for example years down the track when they are for example:

– Choosing high schools for their children;

– Deciding to relocate interstate;

– If issues arise around step parents and blended families.

Mediation can provide a safe space and structure to facilitate difficult conversations. It isn’t therapy but rather a future focused process, which aims
to provide people with practical agreements that they can live by.

A family dispute resolution practitioner (FDRP) is a specialised family mediator accredited by the Attorney Generals Department.

It is our role to work with the family as a whole, not to support the particular wants or needs of one parent or the other but to focus on the best interests
of the children.

We meet with each parent individually to do the following:

1. Hear things from each person’s perspective;

2. To understand the communication dynamic between the parents;

3. To establish what each parent wants to achieve and why;

To look at each child’s current and future needs;

And to screen and ensure mediation is suitable.

Once this process is complete both parents are invited to attend a joint mediation session for around three hours to discuss issues, explore options and
negotiate an agreement.

In some instances it is identified that it would be useful to bring the children’s voice into the mediation process. This is called child inclusive practice
and is done with the assistance of a child consultant who will meet with school age children to find out how they are coping with the separation and
what their wishes are. This information is provided back to the parents to help inform decisions around living arrangements and other parenting matters.

On other occasions and often when a financial settlement is being mediated, lawyers will attend with their clients to a mediation to provide on the spot
advice and guidance. This is called a legally assisted mediation or LAM.

If you or someone you know is in the process of separation or divorce and is having trouble trying to communicate or agree matters with their ex partner,
mediation is an excellent option to help to break the cycle of conflict.

Contact Gloria Hawke you can also read about her life as a local mum here