Plain English Guide to Preparing for Family Mediation

Effectively preparing for your Family Mediation conference will help you to get the most out of the Family Mediation process.  This Plain English Guide provides an overview of the steps that Coleman Greig suggests you take in the lead up to your Family Mediation, and discusses a range of things that you should take the time to properly prepare for.

For further information on the Family Law Mediation process, please take a look at our Plain English Guide to Family Law Mediation.

What should you expect once the Family Mediation has been confirmed?

Once the Family Mediation has been confirmed, the Family Mediator will send both parties information relating to the Family Mediation.  You will be asked to sign a Family Mediation agreement, which is a document signed by all parties to the Family Mediation outlining the roles and responsibilities of the Family Mediator, as well as the expectations of the parties. 

One of the important aspects covered in the Family Mediation agreement relates to confidentiality.  The Family Mediation is conducted as a confidential meeting between the parties, meaning that all documentation prepared for the Family Mediation, as well as any discussions that occur during the course of the Family Mediation (including any settlement proposals or concessions made) are confidential, and must stay between the parties, their legal representatives and the Family Mediator.

This confidentiality prevents any party from using information, (including settlement offers) once the Family Mediation has concluded, except in specific circumstances.

Pre-Family Mediation conference

Parties to the Family Mediation will also be invited to attend a pre-Family Mediation conference with the Family Mediator.  This process is aimed at allowing the Family Mediator to explain the Family Mediation process, and provide information on what the parties can expect on the day of the Family Mediation. 

The pre-Family Mediation conference also enables a discussion regarding any further materials or preparation required prior to the Family Mediation.  If the Family Mediation relates to financial and property matters, there might be an agreement reached for certain financial documentation to be exchanged between the parties.  The parties might also agree to obtain market appraisals or valuations on certain assets, such as property or motor vehicles, which will help in understanding the value of the assets prior to the Family Mediation. 

The Family Mediator might also request that the parties deliver a document which provides an overview of their situation with respect to the matters that they wish to discuss at Family Mediation.  This is commonly referred to as a Position Paper, and will usually be prepared in consultation with the party's legal representative.  Each party will be asked to provide a copy of their respective Position Papers to the other party, as well as to the Family Mediator prior to the date of the Family Mediation. 

What other preparations are required prior to the Family Mediation conference?

In the lead up to the date of the conference, it is important that you think about the matters that you wish to discuss at the Family Mediation, as well as the outcomes that you are hoping for.  For financial and property matters, it might be prudent to obtain advice from independent accountants and financial planners so that you fully understand your financial position.  Similarly, it is important to be aware of any tax-related consequences that could impact on a potential settlement.

In circumstances where you might need to borrow funds to pay out a joint debt and/or make a cash payment to your former spouse to enable you to keep an asset (e.g. the former matrimonial residence), then you should also consider obtaining pre-approval from a financial institution, such as a bank. 

Legal Representation

Parties regularly have their legal representation attend the Family Mediation with them.  Lawyers are generally familiar with the Family Mediation process, and can assist their clients throughout the preparation stage, as well as during the actual Family Mediation conference.  Your lawyer can also advise you on any offers that are exchanged, and help you to work towards a resolution. 

If an agreement can be reached at the Family Mediation conference, the lawyers will generally be responsible for drafting the documentation necessary in recording the relevant agreement.  This in turn allows the involved parties to sign the document(s) on the same day as the Family Mediation, essentially allowing them to 'get the ball rolling' on any agreements made during the Family Mediation.

What should you expect on the day of the Family Mediation?

On the day of the Family Mediation, it is helpful to arrive at the conference venue early in order to familiarise yourself with the setting.  Arriving early also gives you the opportunity to have a private moment with your lawyer (should you choose to have a lawyer attend) prior to the commencement of the Family Mediation conference.

The Family Mediator will also introduce themselves to the parties prior to the Family Mediation formally commencing.  Usually, the Family Mediator will meet with both parties (and their lawyers) together in the same room, however the Family Mediator may deem this unsuitable in certain circumstances. 

The Family Mediator will take the time to explain the Family Mediation process to the parties before inviting each party to provide an opening statement.  This allows each party to give the Family Mediator a brief outline of why they have agreed to participate in Family Mediation, and what they hope to achieve from the Family Mediation conference.  This process will be further explained to the parties in the lead up to the Family Mediation, usually at the pre-Family Mediation conference.

During the course of the Family Meditation, parties will have the opportunity to break-out into private sessions with their lawyers, as well as with the Family Mediator.  This gives the parties an opportunity to both reflect upon what has been said in the joint session, and to consider the options that they might wish to put forward as a means of resolving the matter.

In the event of an agreement being reached, the Family Mediator can assist the parties in determining how best to document their agreement, and what further action will be required of each party.

How can Coleman Greig help you?

Coleman Greig provides a professional and accessible Mediation service, specifically catering for Family Law matters.  Our Family Law Mediators are all fully accredited through the Australian Institute of Family Law Arbitrators and Mediators as well as being Accredited Specialists in Family Law through the Law Society of New South Wales. 

By also practising as lawyers exclusively in the area of family law, each of our Family Mediators is highly skilled and experienced in family law, and is therefore well equipped to mediate in this area of law.  

If you have any questions regarding any of the above information, please contact:

Malcom Gittoes-Caesar
Principal, Accredited Specialist Family Law
Phone: 02 9895 9242
Email: mgittoes-caesar@colemangreig.com.au

Adam West
Principal, Accredited Specialist Family Law
Phone: 9895 9243
Email: awest@colemangreig.com.au

Karina Ralston
Principal, Accredited Specialist Family Law
Phone: 9895 9242
Email: kralston@colemangreig.com.au

For more information on how our Family Lawyers can assist you with preparing for Family Mediation, please contact our team in ParramattaNorwest and Penrith.

Disclaimer: The information provided in the document is a general summary and is not intended to be nor should it be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other professional advice.