WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MEDIATION IN A NUTSHELL
The parties responsibilities
In a mediation (family issues or otherwise) the participants have a responsibility in the process to:
- Raise issues to put on the Mediation Agenda
- Make proposals
- and importantly to make decisions.
The last point is the most important to understand. No one else in a mediation process can make decisions but you and the other party/s. You may have a lawyer or counsel with you or others to assist you in the process but none of those people have the responsibility to make decisions. Only the participants can. Making a decision can be difficult which is why you need to be prepared in advance to consider the best outcomes you believe you should receive and also the worst possible outcomes in the event of no agreement.
The Mediator is responsible for:
- Guiding the process
- Providing general information about the issues raised
- Helping the parties take turns talking an listening
- Shuttling between the parties and delivering proposals where the parties are in different rooms
- Helping the parties explain their proposals and respond respectfully
- Helping the parties finalise the basic terms of the agreements (in the absence of lawyers supporting the parties)
WHAT MEDIATION ISN’T!
Most importantly the mediator DOES NOT MAKE DECISIONS, that responsibility lies with the participants.
A mediator shouldn’t and won’t:
- Pressure you to make decisions or tell you what to do. Mediation is voluntary and even where mandatory then it is still up to you to make decisions.
- Mediators generally don’t give legal advice although since I am a lawyer and an Accredited Family Law Specialist I can give general legal information.
- Mediators are independent and don’t take sides.
- What occurs and is said in family mediation is confidential and if parenting issues are involved then the Family Law Act imposes confidentiality with some exceptions. You can’t repeat what is said and offered during a mediation.
I conduct intake sessions before mediation to reinforce these issues and provide more information on the process so that you can be as prepared as you can be to participate in a meaningful way and resolve issues.