Mediation Before Court.

In the period immediately following a family or relationship break-up, emotions are usually running very high and it will be very difficult to deal with important issues that must be handled carefully, especially if they involve children. Issues that involve children must be handled well and handled quickly.

There is a prevalent view that Family Court is the only place that these issues can be dealt with. In fact, only about 5% of family break-ups reach the Family Court. Many of the cases that do reach the court could be easily dealt with through mediation.

Using mediation as a first stop can save families a great deal of time and expense. During the period of high emotions, communication between couples can be extremely difficult and the structure of a mediation process creates the space for people to hear the other side and at least understand it.

Understanding the other persons position is not the same as agreeing with it but coming to understand each others point of view will open up the thought processes to a wider perspective on the issues and offer a greater choice of possible solutions to the problems.

Mediation offers the opportunity for couples and families to negotiate their own solutions. Once the issues are presented to the court, the decision is usually taken out of the hands of the parties and is decided on the basis of law and the experience of the Judges involved. Often, neither party is happy with the result.

The court process is often lengthy and creates a conflict mode of dealing with the issues with pressure to prove your position against the evidence of the other party. This can, and often does, inflame emotions already running high, and make communication and understanding all the more difficult.

The mediation process usually diffuses emotions and focuses on the issues rather that the people involved. It opens up discussion and often ends up with an agreement that neither party would have otherwise considered. At the end of the process there is usually a written agreement drawn up that can be checked by lawyers and then lodged with the Family Court as consent orders.

With mediation, nothing becomes binding until an agreement is drawn up and signed and therefore offers the freedom to put forward solutions for discussion that wouldnt otherwise be possible. The discussions within Mediation are strictly confidential and don't compromise the court process if it becomes necessary later on. Mediation is a cost effective way of dealing with issues of property settlements, care of children and anything else that needs sorting out after a relationship breakup.

Graeme Urlich 02/11/2005

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