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Mediation Proceedings: The Do’s And Don’ts

Although there are many definitions of the mediation process, one of the most accurate (and arguably the simplest) definitions of mediation is “assisted negotiation”. Mediation is a process by which a neutral third party (also known as a mediator) helps individuals in conflict negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. Settling disputes through mediation is quicker and more cost-effective than the more formal processes in court, and as such, mediation should be considered as early as possible after a dispute has arisen. Today, we look at the do’s and don’ts of mediation, in a bid to help you better prepare yourself for the most successful outcome possible. Read on to find out more.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Mediation

Do: Show Up For Your Appointment

Mediation can only occur when both parties are present for a meeting or appointment in the presence of one or more impartial, trained and nationally accredited mediator(s). It is vital that both parties are present at the meeting in order to reach a mutual resolution in any event. If logistics are a problem, you can use video-conferencing or teleconferencing, although we believe that they are not as effective as being physically present.

Don’t: Force The Other Party To Attend Mediation 

It is important to remember that mediation is a voluntary process. If the other party does not wish to attend mediation, it is not possible to compel him or her to attend.

Do: Have An Open Mind 

Unfortunately, mediation will not be successful if you are not prepared to compromise. A great tip is to write down what your ideal scenario is walking into mediation, followed by another one or two alternative options. These options may involve compromises you are willing to make in order to reach an agreement with the other party. 

Don’t: Lead With Aggression or Insults

The truth of the matter is that life is not perfect, and you may very well have your own personal problems or issues with the other party you are dealing with. However, it is important that you avoid leading with aggression or insults during your mediation. Avoid hostile, demeaning, or humiliating words during your exchange that may seriously impede reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. 

Do: Come Prepared For Your Meeting 

Mediation involves working through the differences of opinion about a dispute, and various supporting documents can be invaluable in achieving that goal. As such, it is vital that both parties come prepared for the meeting, equipped with any necessary documentation or information that may prove beneficial to the outcome. Additionally, you are encouraged to think about what you want to achieve from the mediation. For example, it might be important to you to:
  • Get a financial settlement;
  • Come up with a parenting plan;
  • Receive and apology; or
  • Sort out the dispute so you can move on.

Don’t: Expect Your Mediator To Come Up With Solutions

It is important to remember that the role of a mediator is to manage the process of the mediation and assist both parties to reach an agreement. Mediators do not come up with solutions or offer judgement about the way in which a dispute should be resolved.

Do: Prioritise Open Communication

Clear and effective communication is key in achieving a successful outcome in mediation. It is important that you do your best to think about how you would like to be spoken to and let that guide how you speak to the other party involved. Prior to mediation, come up with ways to handle your emotions if you feel yourself getting frustrated or overwhelmed. Some helpful suggestions include taking a break or addressing how you are feeling to the mediator and the other party in a civil and calm way. 

Don’t: Fail To Consider The Other Party

You know what the key issues are for yourself, but what about the other party? We recommend writing down what you think their key issues or concerns are and why these issues may be important to them. It is important to try and understand what the other party wants so you can see where you may be able to reach an agreement. 

Do: Get Advice From A Family Law Expert

Family law is a complex area of law and is one that requires someone with a wealth of experience. As such, it is important that you get the advice of a qualified lawyer as early as possible, even before you plan on attending mediation. Contacting us as soon as possible will ensure that property settlement issues and asset division during separation is dealt with proactively.

Don’t: Refuse To Respond To An Offer Or Demand

The mediation process is highly dependent on give-and-take. Even if you feel that an offer or demand is unfair, it is important that you offer a response even if that is in the form of a nominal compromise. A refusal to negotiate at all may end the process prematurely. 

Do: Be Patient

Patience is absolutely vital during mediation. Parties in a dispute often believe they are right and as such may have unrealistic expectations. It is important for parties in mediation to allow time for changes to occur. Of all the rules for successful mediation, this is one of the most important. 

Don’t: Try To Rush Mediation 

In some cases, there is absolutely no way a case may be settled within the time constraints of a single mediation session. It is all too common that, out of frustration, the parties reject a mediator’s invitation to reconvene for a joint session. Additional meetings are often very helpful in overcoming disagreements or impasses, so be sure to remain patient and open-minded to future mediation sessions.  ________________ Family law disputes are never easy. Hopefully, by following this mediation do’s and don’ts, you will be able to minimise undue stress, worry, and tensions.  For more information and tips on the mediation process, do not hesitate to contact one of our expert family lawyers today.