Legally Assisted Mediation
What is legally assisted mediation?
Legally assisted mediation is essentially the same process as conventional mediation only both you and your former partner agree to bring your lawyers into the problem solving and agreement-making phase.
What is the process?
The process itself can be quite flexible. Usually though the mediation takes place in one longer session rather than being spread over 2 or 3 shorter sessions. Mediation can take place at your lawyer’s office, the office of your partner’s lawyer or a meeting room provided by the mediator.
The mediator is in charge of the process and will direct you and your lawyer, and your partner and their lawyer, to help move things along.
Commonly the process begins with each party explaining their priorities and goals. The mediator will then assist you and your former partner to set an agenda of issues to reach agreement on.
The mediation can then proceed either in the more conventional form, with all parties together in the same room, or alternatively as a ‘shuttle’ mediation, with you and your lawyer in one room and your former partner and their lawyer in the other. The mediator then moves between the two rooms assisting you both to reach agreement. If all parties are together in the same room usually your lawyer won’t speak for you, instead there will be regular breaks where your lawyer can give you advice and guidance.
If arrangements are agreed it may be possible for the lawyers to draw up the agreement on the spot. Alternatively, for more complex agreements or agreements that will be filed with the Family Court, the lawyers can take these agreements back to their offices for preparation.
Why choose legally assisted mediation?
Legally assisted mediation is most useful if there are very complex issues or there is a lot at stake. Having your lawyer there means you can take advice on the spot and discuss matters with their help.
Attending mediation is compulsory if you want to file your matter with the Family Court. Attending mediation with your lawyer means you are able to make an agreement with the benefit of their guidance.
It is also useful in situations where some aspects of your situation are easier to sort out, whilst other aspects are harder. For example, some families find that financial arrangements are complicated and complex and require a long investigative process yet arrangements for children can be sorted out relatively quickly. Or vice versa. Legally assisted mediation allows you to come to agreements on some issues whilst not compromising other aspects of your situation.
When is legally assisted mediation beneficial?
- If there are family violence issues that disqualify you and your former partner from traditional mediation.
- If you do not feel that your former partner is disclosing information honestly.
- If you don’t fully understand your former partner’s financial situation.
- If you feel uncomfortable or insecure communicating with your former partner, even with the assistance of a mediator.
- If your situation is very complex or there are many issues at stake.
- If you intend to have any agreement you make with your former partner made into enforceable court orders.
- If you intend to make agreements on financial matters, as these require independent legal advice in order to be valid.
- If you have already engaged a lawyer and are required to attend mediation before filing your matter with the Family Court.
- If you have already engaged a lawyer but still wish to attempt mediation in order to avoid the court process.
- If there is a sense of urgency and a need to make arrangements quickly.