At HHG Legal Group, we pride ourselves on being one of Western Australia’s most trusted family law firms. We have been assisting individuals and families for over 100 years, with offices in Perth, Joondalup, Mandurah, Bunbury and Albany. We understand that going through a relationship breakdown can be a very difficult time. Dianne Caruso is a Registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner and her aim is to provide people with a forum to engage in meaningful discussion about matters arising from their separation, with the hope of avoiding often lengthy and expensive Court proceedings. She is available to conduct family mediations in respect of both parenting and financial matters.
Mediations can take place at the offices of HHG Legal Group in Perth, Joondalup, Mandurah, Bunbury and Albany. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding Family Dispute Resolution and the services that Dianne provides.
What is family law mediation?
When two people separate, issues can arise like how property will be divided between the parties or how children of the relationship will be cared for. The Family Court prefers people to resolve these kinds of issues outside of Court. This can be done through mediation. Mediation is a different way of resolving disputes where former partners sit down together with a qualified person known as a mediator to discuss issues and reach an agreement.
Our family dispute resolution team is able to conduct mediations in respect of both parenting and financial matters. Our aim is to provide people with a forum to engage in meaningful discussion about matters arising from their separation, with the hope of avoiding often lengthy and expensive Court proceedings.
During mediation, the mediator will guide a discussion between the parties. The mediator will remain neutral and will not make any decisions or give any advice to the parties but will instead guide the conversation so that both parties have the chance to tell their side of the story and consider all possible options to reach an agreement.
Mediation can take place face to face, in separate rooms with the mediator traveling between the two parties, or over the phone.
If successful, mediation can result in a mutual agreement between the parties that is written in their own words. This agreement is not legally binding but it can be used as a basis for future Court applications.
What is the family mediation process?
Mediation processes may differ between mediators, but will generally involve the following steps:
Pre-mediation – your mediator may wish to have an in person or over the phone consultation with you prior to your mediation to determine whether mediation is going to be helpful for your circumstances and to answer any questions you might have.
Introduction – at the start of the mediation, the mediator will usually give a statement describing their role, the mediation process and any ground rules.
Identification of Issues – Each party will then be given a chance to explain their side and what they think the issues are.
Discussion – the mediator may then ask more questions to the parties to get additional information. This will help the mediator figure out which issues can be resolved first.
Private Discussion – each party may then have the chance to discuss their thoughts with the mediator or with their lawyer if they have one.
Negotiation – the parties will then negotiate solutions to the issues. The mediator will help the parties identify all their options for an agreement.
Agreement – if an agreement is reached, the mediator will put it in writing.
Mediation can be an alternative to litigation if parties are willing to cooperate and reach an agreement.
However, an attempt at mediation can also be a condition for Court as the law sometimes requires parties to attend mediation before they are allowed to make a Family Court application. For example, where children are involved in a separation and parents are unable to agree on the children’s living arrangements, the law requires parents to attend mediation before they can go to Court.
Sometimes people use mediation in conjunction with the Court process to help speed it up by negotiating issues outside of Court.
Mediation is a lot quicker and less stressful than resolving issues in the Family Court as it doesn’t require the same level of procedural action that the Court does. Where family issues in the Court can take years to resolve, issues in mediation may be resolved within a few sessions.
Mediation is also a lot less expensive as it can be done quickly and without a lawyer compared with the costs of lawyers conducting lengthy negotiations on behalf of the parties.
Is mediation legally binding?
If parties reach a written agreement after mediation, it is not legally binding. However, the agreement can be made to be legally binding if it is included in an Application for Consent Orders to the Family Court or included in a Binding Financial Agreement.
Can you refuse family mediation?
Yes. You can refuse family mediation, even in situations where the law requires you to attempt mediation – such as when there are issues relating to children. However, it is important to understand that if you refuse mediation and attempting mediation is required, a certificate will be issued stating that you did not attend mediation. This may reflect badly on you if the certificate ends up in Court.
What if we can’t reach an agreement?
Mediation can be attempted more than once if it is unsuccessful on the first try.
However, if mediation is unsuccessful, parties may choose to engage lawyers to negotiate on their behalf or resolve issues in Court.
Where mediation is legally required but the parties do not reach an agreement, a certificate will be issued stating that mediation was unsuccessful and allowing the parties to make an application to the Court.
What is an FDPR? Are Family Mediators professional lawyers?
Family mediation can also be known as Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). FDR is conducted by a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, or FDPR.
An FDPR is trained in mediation and negotiation, specialising in family disputes. An FDPR can be a lawyer, but doesn’t have to be. Some FDPR’s have backgrounds in social work or psychology. However, all FDPR’s will be accredited under family law regulations.
In circumstances where parties are legally required to go to mediation, if one party refuses to do so or the parties are not able to reach an agreement at mediation, the FDRP will issue a certificate which allows the parties to file a Court application indicating why the mediation was unsuccessful.
How long does it take?
The length of mediation can vary depending on the types of issues the parties are having and the willingness of the parties to cooperate and negotiate. Single mediation sessions will generally be several hours but some issues will require multiple mediation sessions.
The costs involved in a mediation process depend upon the individual circumstances, including the level of complexity of the issues and the willingness of the parties to negotiate. We believe in full transparency with our clients. All of our clients are fully aware of what their costs are and likely to be. We provide our clients with up-to-date information on their costs at all stages of the process.
How can HHG help?
For more information about how our we can assist you, or arrange a confidential discussion, please visit our contact page to submit an enquiry or reach out to your preferred office directly. Mediations can take place at the offices of HHG Legal Group in Perth, Joondalup, Mandurah, Bunbury and Albany.