Frequently Asked Questions  

Family Dispute Resolution

The answer to some Mediation FAQs by Premier Mediation Australia.

What information do I receive prior to commencing FDR?

At Premier Mediation Australia we provide a very comprehensive Mediation Agreement to all clients prior to their commencement of the process. As well as outlining your rights in the mediation process, this written agreement also provides a great deal of helpful educative material that will assist you to prepare and embark successfully on your mediation journey.

Can I skip the individual Intake/Pre-Mediation session and go straight to the joint mediation session?

No, the Pre-Mediation/Intake session is compulsory by law. In the first instance, this session is required so that the mediator can make an assessment of the suitability of mediation in your particular circumstances.

The Intake also provides an important opportunity for you to prepare for your mediation. The mediator will explain the process to you in detail, answer any questions that you may have, and also ensure that your preparation is on the right track.

For the convenience of our clients, at Premier Mediation Australia we can conduct Intake Sessions over the phone or via Zoom.

How many Mediation sessions are needed?

This depends on the factors associated with your specific case. But you should also never lose sight of the fact that making decisions about your future parenting and property matters are big decisions.

Some couples, who only need to consider a restricted number of matters, comfortably reach agreements within one 3 to 4 hour session. But at Premier Mediation Australia we also understand that you may need more than one session to fully reach and fine-tune your agreements, and we are geared to accommodate this if required. As a private provider, we are not restricted to follow a pre-ordained model or script and can easily adapt to our client’s needs and the complexities of their case. We provide the service that is right for you.

Can parenting and property matters be completed at the same Mediation session?

Although this may be possible (if the matters at hand are quite straightforward) we recommend that this is not the preferred approach. Accordingly, we usually book separate sessions for parenting matters and property matters.

The reasons for not mixing up these two areas is twofold. Firstly, they are regulated by different parts of the Family Law legislation and are measured against different benchmarks. And secondly, it is important that you are in a position to fully focus on the important decisions about your future that arise in each of these separate areas.   

Do I have to be divorced before attending Mediation?

No, you can attend Mediation and FDR as soon as you believe you need to.

In any event, there is a legal distinction between ‘divorce’ and ‘separation’. The latter occurs once you have made the decision that your relationship is definitely over – the law recognises that this may even occur whilst couples remain living under the same roof in the same premises. Also note that it is not uncommon for former partners to move through the stages of separation at a different pace.

But once your decision is made to permanently separate, very important decisions will need to be made about your parenting and financial arrangements going forward. These necessities are both practical and legal. Subject to Section 55 of the Family Law Act, a court will generally not grant you a divorce unless satisfied that proper arrangements have been made for the care, welfare and development of all children of your marriage.

Some of these decisions that you need to make will be urgent and immediate, including how to cover the short-term expenses for your children. So the sooner you start working with a professional mediator at Premier Mediation Australia the better. 

It should also be remembered that there are legal time restrictions applicable to formal property settlements, compelling you to sort out your property/financial arrangements within a reasonable time of your relationship ending:

If you were married this should be within 12 months of your divorce.

If you were in a de facto relationship, then this should be within 2 years from your separation.

This means that time can be of the essence, and it is much better to make preparations as soon as possible.

Do my children attend FDR Mediations?

No, generally children do not directly attend any of these sessions.

Nonetheless, we remain child focussed in all that we do, meaning that the child’s best interests are considered as a maximum and central priority throughout the entire process. Put simply, this is the absolute, minimum standard we accept at Premier Mediation Australia.

If appropriate, you may consider the next step up, namely a Child-Inclusive process (explained below). This can only be done with parental consent, and you should always ensure that this process is guided by a mediator who has undergone the necessary specialist training.  

What is Child-Inclusive Mediation?

Child-Inclusive Mediation is a voluntary process, during which a specifically-trained Child-Inclusive Mediator and Counsellor meets with the children (school-age and above) to find out directly from them how they are coping with their parents’ separation.

With the permission of the children, the Child-Inclusive Mediator and Counsellor can then provide feedback to the parents in a future Mediation session, effectively becoming the voice of the children. This can assist parents to understand aspects of their separation and current parenting arrangements from the perspective of their children, and also allows them to hear any key messages their children want to have heard.

It is important to note that the Child-Inclusive Mediator and Counsellor owes a duty of confidentiality to each child and best practice is to negotiate with each child what is disclosed to the parents. At no point is a child expected or required to make decisions about matters such as which parent they are going to live with or spend time with.

What are the major benefits of Child-Inclusive Mediation?

Child-Inclusive Mediation can give the children a ‘voice’ – they may express their views and feel that they have been heard without fear of upsetting either parent.

Child-Inclusive Mediation can give the parents a greater understanding of how their children are really feeling and coping – effectively providing them with an opportunity to see what life looks like through the eyes of their children.

Child-Inclusive Mediation can assist separated parents to develop co-operative parenting arrangements and strategies in the future.

Last but not least, Child-Inclusive Mediation can help parents remained focussed on the best interests of their children.

Want to Know More?

At Premier Mediation Australia, our Principal is a fully trained Child-Inclusive Mediator and Counsellor, and can advise you about these types of services if deemed suitable to your personal situation. The Principal has also completed the YCIDS Program – Young Children in Divorce and Separation at Children Beyond Dispute, and can therefore offer clients expertise in this area.

What is Collaborative Family Law and Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative Family Law offers a non-adversarial  innovation to the standard divorce/separation process of either going to court or engaging lawyers to negotiate via letters and phone calls based on client instructions.

There are several things that make lawyers who use the Collaborative Divorce process different.

Collaborative Family Law is focussed completely on negotiating an out-of-court settlement, with lawyers representing both parties signing an agreement acknowledging that they will not go to court with your case. If you ultimately decide you really want to go to court, you will have to start over with new lawyers. That alone is an incentive for the collaborative lawyers to work hard at reaching an agreement out of court.

Collaborative Family Law is team-orientated. The focus is meeting together with the lawyers, and in many cases, a divorce coach with whom you can speak separately, and who will organise the team meetings.

In many collaborative divorce cases, there is also a financial expert involved. This person is usually a neutral financial advisor, so that both of you can consult with the same person. This neutral advisor can help you in meetings with your lawyers to work out financial issues related to your financial settlement.

If required, other professionals that can be engaged in the collaborative process and meetings can include neutral mental health professionals and child specialists. These professionals can consult with both parties to help them work out what is best for them and their Parenting Plan.

Securing the help of several different professionals, all working in the same direction, can be a great approach, and it contrasts markedly with the adversarial methods that arise in court when the parties are required to compete and testify against each other. 

One of the features about collaborative divorce that’s similar to Mediation is that the focus is on the future, not the past, so you can build on the best aspects and the positive parts of your relationship, rather than focussing on the negative, which often makes things even worse. (In court, people submit affidavits that usually say a lot of negative things about their former partner and co-parent. You are likely to hear a lot of very negative points about yourself from the other person or from the other person’s lawyer). 

 A collaborative approach offers many advantages to persons looking to divorce or separate:

  • It allows you to stay in control and make the final decisions
  • The goals of both parties are explored and respected
  • Your communication with each other will be strengthened, both during the process and post separation
  • The needs of your children will be prioritised
  • You will be assisted with practical financial solutions
  • You are actively involved in all aspects of your settlement
  • It is a respectful process
  • The process reduces hostility and promotes an amicable future 

Our Principal is as an accredited Collaborative Family Lawyer and Collaborative Divorce Coach (fully satisfying the guidelines issued by the Law Council of Australia and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals). He is therefore always happy to speak further with you about the merits of the collaborative separation methods, if you believe these approaches could be right for your circumstances. Contact us today.

How can my divorce or separation affect my children?

As child development specialists at Premier Mediation Australia, we could provide many pages of research and information about this alarming topic, so answering one simple question about it is unlikely to do it proper justice. But in a nutshell, it can be definitively stated that divorce and separation can result in a major upheaval and serious long-term impacts to the lives of your children.

At Premier Mediation Australia, we are aware that the way children adjust to the separation of their parents will depend greatly on how their parents manage the process, and how they communicate with each other.

Although we still look at every example on a case-by-case basis, children will generally cope better when their parents are demonstrating less hostility towards each other, in other words, not following an adversarial pathway. Bitter and contracted conflict can leave children feeling as though they are a ‘cause’ or a ‘part’ of such conflict. The intensity, frequency, and lack of resolution about such conflict are also important factors that can have devastating impacts on the lives of your children.

If only for the sake of your children, you should give serious consideration to utilising the leading services offered at Premier Mediation Australia, where we prefer to think of you as parents rather than litigants. Working together in a spirit of respectfulness, we can help you to build upon your strengths, allowing you to take the opportunity to pause and focus on what will ultimately be in the best interests of your children.

 

Should I get my own legal advice?

Whilst FDR and Family Mediation can be undertaken independently without any further legal input, our policy at Premier Mediation Australia is to strongly encourage you to also seek your own legal advice from an experienced family lawyer, both for parenting and property matters.

This advice can be sought prior to or during the Mediation process itself, and also importantly before you sign any legally binding agreement. An experienced family lawyer will be able to give you specific advice about your legal rights and obligations, and also ensure that you make fully informed decisions. 

Whilst it would be fair to say that there sometimes may be a certain disconnect between some Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners and some lawyers, at Premier Mediation Australia we always adopt a completely co-operative mindset.

We fully recognise and respect the valuable role played by your family lawyer. We appreciate that you need to protect your interests, and we also want the most suitable result for you, given the circumstances that you face.

Our legal experience further enables us to identify to you specific areas in which seeking independent legal advice may be particularly useful in your circumstances.

Can I consult with other professionals?

As above, certainly.

For example, some clients may find it particularly useful to speak to a qualified financial advisor when property matters are being discussed, to gain a greater understanding of factors such as capital gains, tax and stamp duty.

 As we offer a fully professional service, we would always recommend that you also carefully check the qualifications of those you seek advice from. If needed, we can provide quality referrals to you upon request.

Do you offer the option for lawyer-assisted Mediation?

Yes, we certainly welcome this process. For this type of Mediation to occur, both parties must give their consent, and each must have their respective lawyers in attendance.  

Lawyers engaging in this process can provide support to their clients as well as ‘on-the-spot’ legal advice about the issues in contention.

If resolutions are reached, having each participant’s lawyer present can be particularly beneficial in speeding up the post-mediation processes. Costs and delays associated with legal correspondence can be reduced, and the necessary legal settlement documentation can be discussed and drawn up much quicker (sometimes on the same day).

If you wish to participate in lawyer-assisted Mediation, please feel free to enquire with us. Alternatively, you could ask your lawyer to contact us directly to make the initial enquiry on your behalf. 

What if I’m apprehensive about being in the same room as my ex-partner?

Keeping everyone feeling comfortable, affirmed and safe is a prime priority in Mediation. A skilful mediator can manage the process so that each participant can exercise their right to be heard in a courteous and respectful manner.

 In addition to face-to-face mediations, shuttle mediations (where the mediator moves between the parties in different rooms/locations or via telephone or video conferencing) can also be facilitated in suitable cases.

Can I have a support person?

This is possible in the appropriate circumstances, on the understanding that both parties must firstly agree that support persons can be present.

If you want to have this option to be considered, please feel to raise the matter with your mediator beforehand.

Can I have a break during Mediation, or ask to speak to the mediator separately?

Mediation is a voluntary process, so you can certainly ask to take a break at any time. Some people may use such a break to clear their head, or consider their position further. If the needs arises, you are also free to contact your solicitor or any other professionals by phone, text or email during such a break.

You can also ask to speak to the mediator privately and confidentially at any time. In any event, your mediator will usually ask to speak with each party separately during the session.

You are my preferred Mediator – can you send your contact details and further information to my lawyer?

Yes, subject to your instructions we are certainly always happy to forward all of our relevant information directly to you, your ex-partner and/or your lawyers as required. Our contact details are listed on the Contact Us Page of this website.

Free Consultation/Diagnostic Session

We offer a free 30 minute telephone consultation for all potential clients, during which we can discuss the circumstances of your particular case and provide guidance about the best ways for you to move forward. Call us today on 0477 130 667.

Or you can contact us via our email:

contact@premiermediationaustralia.com.au 

You can also send through a contact form to Premier Mediation Australia. We will be in touch promptly to discuss your needs and requirements and assist you to achieve the best outcome for your family.

Hours

Monday           – By appointment
Tuesday           – By appointment
Wednesday     – By appointment
Thursday         – By appointment
Friday               – By appointment
Saturday          – By appointment
Sunday             – By appointment

For face-to-face mediations, we have excellent access to numerous private facilities all across Melbourne and Victorian regional areas. Suitable meeting rooms can be arranged depending on client’s needs and convenience.

 All of our on-line services are available both locally and Australia-wide.