We are often asked “What are the benefits of Family Dispute Resolution compared to getting a lawyer and going to court?”
The biggest benefits by far are the speed to resolve issues, the cost is a fraction of what going to court costs and the way that it enables communication.
Going to court for Family Law matters can take months if not years to get a result. During that time you will be in conflict and unable to resolve the issues between you properly. You will not get a final result quickly and in most cases you will settle through a rushed compromise during one of your interim court hearings. Sometimes people agree to things that they know that they can’t live with just to get out of court.
In a properly facilitated Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) process you are in control. The FDR practitioner makes sure that the process is safe and appropriate and facilitates respectful communication but you determine what you want to talk about and discuss. You can test things out and trial options without any penalty and again in a time frame that works for you not a court system that doesn’t care what else is going on in your life.
I encourage you to look for a FDR service that not only puts you in control of the process but who gives you the time needed to reach a realistic outcome.
Some services due to the constraints of government funding don’t allow enough time to do enough exploration of the issues before attempting to come to a resolution.
Others force you into a full day process where the outcome is “agreement by exhaustion”. In other words everyone is so tired they are ready to agree to almost anything. While it might be effective if the goal is a piece of paper with signatures. I think you’re reading between the lines that at Mi Mediation Centre we don’t believe that a piece of paper is the goal. The goal should be an agreement that everyone in your family can live with.
The goal should be to reach a new level of understanding and a mutually agreed plan to move forward as a family with agreement on how to best co-parent (or how to best divide up the assets and liabilities you’ve accumulated)
We generally allow three hours per mediation session at Mi Mediation Centre so that you have plenty of time to discuss the issues, understand them from each others perspectives and explore and consider options. Only then are you in a position to resolve the source of whatever conflict or disagreements you are experiencing and selecting an option that works not only for the adults but the children in your family.
Don’t be discouraged if you experienced a rushed and unsatisfying mediation process with another service in the past. Just like not all doctors or psychologists are the same not all mediation services are the same. With Mi Mediation Centre you are in the drivers seat right where you should be. The decisions you are going to be making are critical to your life and family, after all.
So even if the issues are complex and you need more than one mediation session the three, six or nine hours you might take to put together a very well considered agreement are nothing compared to the six, nine or twelve months that you’ll be in virtual limbo as the court slowly grinds through its processes.
The 2nd big reason to choose the mediation pathway is because of cost. Not only is mediation much faster the fees that mediators charge are typically less than lawyers and they will be billing you for a lot less hours!
Our full fee FDR services are based on an hourly rate of $275 per hour (less if you are a low income earner or on a health care card)
Most lawyers are charging between $350 – $500 per hour and bill on six minute increments. That doesn’t mean to say that we think you should not have a lawyer.
We strongly encourage you to get good quality legal advice (that means paying for it if you can) but it doesn’t mean that you have to hand over your keys to the lawyer. They may have the best of intentions but the reality is they are running a process while you are trying to make it through a really tough patch in your life.
If you end up in court you may find that all of your available money, and possibly more than that, gets gobbled up by a process that will ultimately end up with you reaching some sort of agreement by consent before the final trial. If you don’t reach agreement the $15,000 to $30,000 you spend will swell to $50,000 to $80,000 or much more. It is not uncommon to see people spending $70,000 to $80,000 before they even get into court if they have the money to waste. Then of course you’ll hear the horror stories of really high wealth families who spend millions of dollars each fighting it out in court to the absolute destruction of everything they have worked for and built up over their lives.
Don’t do that!
If you have complex issues that are difficult to resolve with just the two of you then let us bring in a team to support you. Even with a divorce coach each, lawyers advising your, financial planners, child specialists and anyone else you want to add to the mix working with you and your mediator to help your family develop a solution that will work for you and still at a fraction of what the court would cost.
The third massive benefit of mediation is that it is a facilitated communication process that makes sure that your issues are not compounded by assumptions, misunderstandings and information gaps.
We get it. We know that you don’t want to talk to your former partner. You are feeling ___________ (insert the uncomfortable feelings you’re experiencing right now) Being around them just makes you feel worse and you don’t wont to talk to them, see them or spend time with them.
The problem is the fastest, cheapest way to resolve the issues is to meet and discuss them.
Anything else than communicating about the issues, exploring and understanding them and then working out a solution actually means that you’ll be caught up in the conflict for longer.
So what if there has been family violence and you are frightened to come face to face with them and are fearful about what they might do during or after the mediation?
Part of our absolute obligation to you are Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners is to screen for risk to you and to others. We do this during the pre-mediation meeting we have and during that session discuss what history of violence has occurred in your relationship, physical, sexual, emotional and psychological and work with you to assess the risk of mediation making things worse.
If the intervention is likely to make things worse we won’t proceed but if doing nothing to resolve the difficulties you are facing in your relationship is more likely to make things worse we may be able to work with you both.
Our attitude to shuttle mediation
The go-to approach with many services if there has been any family violence in the past is to use shuttle mediation. That means that you have to travel to a place where the person you fear is also but remain in a different room with the mediator going back and forward between you carrying messages. Like the shuttle that carries wool back and forward in a weaving machine.
Unfortunately mediators are human and a lot of the meaning including body language, tone and the actual words are lost during this shuttle process meaning that communication is significantly compromised.
Mi Mediation Centre prefers Video Mediation when there are family violence worries sufficient to make face to face mediation in the same room unsuitable. In Video Mediation (and you can have the video turned off if you don’t want to see each other) you can still hear each other and get much more of the message through without putting yourself at any type of risk.
The logical conclusion
We think that mediation is the logical conclusion and first choice for any type of conflict.
With a well facilitated mediation even if you don’t reach agreement you will at least have a better understanding of the issues, where they are coming from and what they want.
Nothing you share or offers you make can be used as evidence against you even if you do end up in court so you won’t have damaged your case in the slightest.
Contact Us to request a copy of our Agreement to Mediate which lists the full terms and conditions under which we offer mediation services.