The Family Mediation Process
What the mediator does
The mediator is a neutral third party who supports and encourages discussion between couples who are separating and/or divorcing. The mediator will be working for both of you to help you make the decisions together that are best for you and your family. If you have children the mediator also helps you keep the focus on your children and what is best for them. The decisions are your decisions and the mediator can help you record them making it easier for you to rely on what has been agreed.
Avoiding legal disputes and costs
When you start mediation, it should be considered as a process to move forward and it is hoped that you will be able to avoid a long legal dispute. Experience shows that arrangements which couples make together stand the test of time better than those imposed by the Courts.
Confidential, private and without prejudice
Mediation gives clients the confidential and private opportunity to make decisions on how they will organise their lives after separation or divorce. Family life and the breakdown of relationships are private and the mediator will keep your confidence. If clients can’t settle the issues with the mediator’s help, because the discussions are without prejudice, any proposals suggested at the mediation meetings cannot later be referred to in court.
There are some legal exceptions to confidentiality. Where there is concern of harm to another person or child, or where the law requires the waiving of confidentiality such as under the Proceeds of Crime Act, there is a requirement on everyone, including mediators, to report certain suspected contraventions to the authorities.
Financial information should be treated as confidential within the process of mediation by both clients. However, financial disclosure is not privileged and must be full and frank in the same open way as in the court process. The advantage is that, even if matters are not resolved in the mediation, it won’t be necessary to repeat the whole financial disclosure process, and so avoid a duplication of costs.