The information provided below is general in nature and should not be relied upon legal advice. You should call 03 5445 1000 and speak to a lawyer at OFRM about your particular circumstances.

Supporting the needs of children with mandatory mediation in family law matters

Supporting the needs of children with mandatory mediation in family law matters

As Sam McGee, one of the Family Law Specialists at OFRM, wrote recently, mediation is a useful way to resolve family law matters.

Legislators and the Court have also recognised mediation’s value and have made it mandatory for parties to enter into mediation before commencing court proceedings for children’s matters. The way in which this is made mandatory is by the Family Law Court rules requiring in most circumstances that parties cannot commence court proceedings seeking orders regarding children without filing what is known as a “section 60I certificate”. A 60I certificate is a certificate that confirms the parties have attempted to resolve the matter through mediation known as family dispute resolution before commencing court proceedings.

There are many benefits in using family dispute respolution to sort out children’s matters.

Firstly, it can be a more rapid means of resolving parenting disputes in comparison to litigation, which can take months if not years to finalise. Resolving children’s disputes quickly is particularly important where young children are involved because even relatively short periods of uncertainty or instability can have a significant impact on them.

Family Dispute Resolution also provides the parties in dispute with a forum in which they can be heard and understand the other party’s perspective. Parties, are given the opportunity to speak about issues and experiences important to them in the situation. This might be the first time they are able to speak about the issues surrounding the dispute since separation. Alternatively this may also be the first time they have heard the other party speaking about such issues. These opportunities do not usually present themselves in legal proceedings and can help the parties come to an agreement quicker as they begin to understand the other parties side and find middle ground.

Family Dispute Resolution also assists parties to maintain or develop a cooperative approach to parenting and continuing such arrangements. This is particularly important in children’s matters as parties will need to be able to communicate effectively when circumstances change as children grow older.

Every family has their own unique circumstance and quirks. One of the original proposed advantages of family dispute resolution is that the process can potentially yield better arrangements for parents in dispute in comparison to decisions made by the courts. These tailor made agreements are far more flexible and specific to the needs of the parties than the outcomes available through the court process.

However, if you are in a situation where you think you may need to attend Family Dispute Resolution mediation it is vital that you obtain advice from our family law team before attending. Our family lawyers will be able to advise you on how to approach the mediation and what would be the likely outcome if you have to go to court. Call the Family Law team on 03 5445 1000.