It’s surprising the number of family and relationship disputes that can be resolved through mediation, without the additional stress of involving the court system.
What to expect in a mediation session
A mediation session is a private meeting involving all parties to the dispute that is guided by your mediator. In some circumstances a meeting may not be appropriate and the mediation could be held by phone or video conferencing (such as SKYPE).
During the session, everyone will have time to talk about their concerns - each party will have equal opportunity to be heard. The mediator may make some suggestions, and may talk to you individually. You will also have a few breaks in between, or you may call for a “time out” should you want a break to get your thoughts together privately, with your mediator or support person.
We usually advise clients that session(s) may take a few hours. Given the complexities of family disputes, you may require more than one session.
Coming to agreement
In most cases an agreement will be reached. Your mediator will assist you to draw up a settlement agreement that records the matters you have discussed, whether you have reached agreement, and the details of this agreement.
If agreement is not reached:
Most people who attend mediation reach an agreement. If however you don’t, your mediator will talk with you about other options, such as:
- Conflict & Communication Coaching
In a small amount of cases, your mediator could recommend separate conflict and communication coaching, so you can learn skills that will help you communicate more effectively, and assist with reaching a positive outcome in any future negotiations / mediations.
- Another mediation session
Sometimes a mediator may recommend that you try another session.
- Other options
You may have the option of taking your dispute to arbitration, or to court for a decision. Your mediator will be able to advise.
We don’t place time limits on the mediation process or what is covered in mediation sessions, and find that trying to fit family conflicts into a set of boxes simply doesn’t work. We understand that there may be multiple issues going on for a family so our services are structured to reflect this and your mediator may suggest extra time would be beneficial.
Our mediators are proven experts in their field, bringing empathy as well as structure to your discussions, and of course, confidentiality.
Any special cultural, disability and language needs will be accommodated.
You do not need to be legally represented to participate in mediation, and in many cases parties are not. This also keeps costs down and can result in a less intimidating environment.
This is not to say that you cannot be represented, however, in many situations legal representation from the right people can facilitate a healthy discussion and ensure the rights of all parties are being protected.
Essentially it's a personal decision you will need to make based on your situation and circumstances.