Understanding the role of mediation and negotiation in a family law matter

Posted on 10 May 2012

When many people think of family law, the first thought is of acrimonious scenes and courtroom drama. Thankfully, this is not the case for every person who finds themselves in a situation where they require assistance with their family law matter.

It is essential in working through your family law matter that you understand that you have the option of attempting to negotiate with your partner, whether it is just between the two of you or with the assistance of a mediator or solicitor.

Why negotiate?

Getting to a point of settling (formally resolving) your family law issues can save you significant amounts of money that would otherwise be spent on legal representation and Court fees and also save you the time, effort and emotional distress of pursuing your matter through the Courts.

We understand that there are situations when taking your matter to Court is inevitable, whether there are safety issues or the parties are simply too far apart in their expectations, however negotiating is always an option worth considering.

When to negotiate?

You can open negotiations with your former partner whenever you are ready. You will find that negotiating when you are both in a calm frame of mind will be more successful.

How to negotiate?

You can start discussions personally with your former partner, negotiate through a solicitor, or through a mediator.
However you choose to negotiate, it is important to know that in order to formalise your agreement (that is, make it binding on both people) you need to prepare and both sign (and in the case of Consent Orders, file with the Court) either:

  • Consent Orders; or
  • a Binding Financial Agreement; and/or
  • a Binding Child Support Agreement.

It is often of helpful for you to obtain some initial legal advice as to what is achievable, workable and realistic in terms of a settlement. This way the parties to not waste their energies and time on agreeing to something which may not be achieved in practical terms. Even if advice is not sought beforehand we strongly recommend that once you have reached an agreement with your former partner you seek legal advice to ensure that the agreement you have reached is properly implemented and binding on the parties.

Dooley & Associates are here to assist you with all your family needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us.