Mediation in Parenting Disputes

There are two types of mediation in relation to parenting matters where the parents cannot agree on the future parenting arrangements.

The first form of mediation is Family Dispute Resolution Mediation (Counselling), which is a form of mediation usually conducted by a Family Dispute Resolution Counsellor, who may or may not be legally qualified but is authorised to do Family Dispute Resolution Mediation to assist the parties usually without the intervention of Lawyers to see whether an agreement can be reached.

In the event that this mediation is unsuccessful in reaching an agreement between the parties, the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner will issue a Section 60I Certificate pursuant to the Family Law Act.  This Certificate is required to issue for parenting matters prior to the parents proceeding, either to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia or the Family Court of Australia to resolve their parenting dispute.

There is a second form of mediation, which at the present time is not frequently used, involving settling disputes of parenting matters.

This form of mediation will be chaired by an experienced Family Law Practitioner, in conjunction with the parties’ legal representatives to resolve all of the outstanding issues and thereby avoiding the cost and the resulting damage to the parent’s relationship as a result of a Trial.

Our experience to date indicates this can be quite successful and we expect it be used more often particularly having regard to the availability of Trial dates and Judgments in the Courts.

We recently undertook this form of mediation in a parenting dispute.

This dispute was between the parents of a four year old boy.  Both parents had re-partnered and had children by their new partners or where about to have children by their new partners.  The parties could not agree.  There were driving issues, issues when three day weekend time was to commence, when extended periods could be taken and other issues.

The mediation was conducted by Rob Grant, an experienced Solicitor, with substantial experience as an Independent Children’s Lawyer.   Both parties were legally represented.

The mediation took approximately six hours and was successful in resolving all of the outstanding issues and Consent Orders were signed by both the Mother and the Father and Orders were made in due course by the Court.

The advantages to the parents were:-

  1. They were able to negotiate a resolution making the appropriate compromises, rather than asking the Court to make the decision on their behalf and in which respect they would have no control over the decision.
  2. It opened up communication between the parents.  Communication may have solved some of the problems which they were experiencing.
  3. Each parent saved a considerable amount of money which would have otherwise been involved in preparation of their matter for Trial and the Trial itself.  It could have easily reached $20,000.00 for a one day Trial.  A simply way of putting this is our client was able to spend his money educating his children rather than spending his money on an educating the writer’s children.
  4. The relationship between the parties is maintained rather than being damaged by cross-examination which would inevitably damage the relationship.