Family Mediation Service
Briese Lawyers' family mediation service aims to assist separating parents to resolve issues in relation to the care of their children in a respectful and amicable manner.
For partners coming to terms with the end of their relationship, it can be difficult to have a calm and rational discussion with the other parent about post-separation parenting arrangements. For some parents, this is simply not possible without the assistance of a neutral third party.
The role of the mediator is to facilitate the conversation between two parents, so that together they can make decisions about how best to support their children as they move forward in separate households.
The research is clear that children cope best with separation when they are not exposed to conflict between their parents. The aim of family mediation is to deal with the issues which are causing conflict and allow parents to move forward in a positive way as co-parents. By discussing these issues in a safe and open forum, the risk of later conflict is reduced.
The mediation process is confidential, giving parents the freedom to talk openly and honestly without fear that what they say may later be repeated if the issues can't be resolved and the matter proceeds to court.
At the end of the family mediation, if an agreement is reached it can be written and signed by the parties. This is called a Parenting Plan. If no agreement is reached, the mediator will issue a certificate which states that the parents have made a genuine effort to reach agreement about the care of their children. The family law courts now require parents to produce such a certificate before asking the court to intervene in their parenting dispute.
Collaborative law is focused on a non-adversarial approach to managing conflict and resolving disputes. It originally began in Minnesota in 1990 by American Lawyer Stu Webb.
Since its initial conception, this method has fast tracked its way through America adapting itself to relevant statutes and eventually trickling its way into Australia in 2005. Its inception in to Australia was met with interest, particularly given the amendments made to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) mandating alternate dispute resolution practices for parties prior to making an Application to the Court. Alternate Dispute Resolution Practices have become a growing industry in Australia and collaborative law appears to be no different.
What is Collaborative Law
Collaborative law is a form of dispute resolution. It is an interest based form of negotiation which involves relevant parties coming together in a manner that is focused on resolving the conflict and ultimately aiming to affect an agreement that is mutually desirable without the need for litigation.
The Collaborative Process
Collaborative law provides an interdisciplinary team approach which enables separating couples the benefit and assistance of other professionals working with them to ensure that their goals can be realised. These teams can include:
- A neutral Financial Advisor, whose main priority is to assist clients identify their overall income, to understand what their assets, debts, expenses and superannuation funds are and how to best manage those issues before moving forward;
- Child Specialists further can play an important role in the negotiation process by providing a non-judgemental approach in assisting the parties develop a plan that protects and serves the child's interests at all times. The child in this process is given a voice and is therefore able to communicate their needs and wishes in a manner that is respected and understood.
- Other professionals such as Counselors or Mental Health workers can also be called upon during the process to assist the parties move beyond any impasse that is reached or generally to provide advice on specific issues.
The collaborative process requires all the parties involved, including the lawyers and any other professional brought in to execute a limited retainer Agreement. The Collaborative Agreement provides a distinct difference to other forms of Alternate Dispute Resolution in that it requires parties to agree to a disqualification clause. This clause prevents the parties from instituting proceedings whilst the collaborative process is on foot and further prevents the respective lawyers acting for their clients if the collaborative process was to fail and the matter was to proceed to Court.
Collaborative law provides a more holistic approach to couples who are separating and their children by providing the necessary resources which allow for better informed choices to be made, which ultimately results in a healthier transition moving forward.
At Briese Lawyers, we understand the trauma that separation can cause and are here to assist you move forward positively. Should you be interested in learning more about Collaborative law and whether it is suitable for your situation, please contact one of our Collaborative lawyers today.
Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation
This fact sheet is provided as a general guide only and should not be used or relied upon by any person without obtaining legal advice in relation to their own circumstances.