MEDIATION AND FAMILY DISPUTE RESOLUTION
The Essentials you need for a
If you want to get the best out of your Mediation (or Family Dispute Resolution) then the following list will help you:
- Prepare fully. If you are not properly prepared, it is unlikely you will be able to get the best out of the mediation.
- Mediators are ‘facilitators’. They are there to facilitate each party talking to try to get you both to discuss the issues and reach agreement if possible. Mediators are not there to give advice or to take sides. The mediator will lead the mediation and set the ground rules.
- What happens in the mediation is confidential and ‘off the record’. It cannot be referred to as evidence in court unless both parties and the mediator agree.
- Approach the Mediation in a positive way and ‘in good faith’. Be ready to talk about the issues in a non-confrontational way. Remember ‘you catch more flies with honey’. There is no way nasty comments or personal attacks will help your case. Nobody likes being subjected to nasty comments or personal attacks. Most people usually “shut down” or at least are not included to be conciliatory and listen to your position if you subject them to that sort of behaviour. Think about how you would like to be spoken to. Even if the other side is behaving badly, it doesn’t mean you have to as well. If you don’t bite, they may run out of steam.
- Communicate effectively by:
- Listening carefully to what everyone is saying.
- Trying to speak clearly and calmly.
- Taking turns when speaking. Do not interrupt the other party or speak over them. Instead make notes of what you want to say in response.
- Making sure you understand what is being said. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. Ask questions about anything you’re not sure about.
- Trying to keep eye contact with the person you are talking to. If you are getting angry or upset, ask for a 5 minute break to compose yourself. If that can’t happen, then pause, take some deep breaths and have a sip of water.
- Maintaining a positive outlook. Even if it looks like things are going bad, there can often be ‘turning points’ in Mediations where things turn around.
- Make sure you make a good impression on the Mediator every time you deal with them leading up to the Mediation and on the day. They will often have to decide whether they allow more resources to your mediation and sign a Certificate for the Court which will indicate whether you participated appropriately.
- Mediation takes time, usually a few hours, sometimes more. Make sure you have allowed plenty of time and don’t have any other commitments. Arrange appropriate car parking so you don’t have to move your car, make arrangements for your children to be looked after or picked up from school. Even if you think you will be finished in time to pick the children up from school, arrange for someone else to be able to pick them up if you phone them. Tell the children you mind have to be at an appointment longer than you think if that happens “X” will pick them up. Make sure you also let the school or child care provider know if someone different may be picking up your child.
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Michelle Beatty, Senior Lawyer
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