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Family Law in Canberra – Practical tips for mediation

By March 4, 2015No Comments

Many couples wish to avoid using lawyers for lengthy settlement conferences and instead try mediation without lawyers to resolve differences (coming back to lawyers to help draft the paperwork once the deal is reached).

In order to get the best out of your mediation, have a look at these useful strategies –from

  1.       Know your best and your worst alternatives to a negotiated agreement (ATNA). These are sometimes referred to as your BATNA and WATNA. Get expert family law advice early on.
  1.       Ask yourself beforehand “why has this family law matter not settled yet?” Reflect on the timing of the mediation. Sometimes people are at different stages in the grieving process after separation and not yet ready to tackle all the hard issues.
  1.       Get comfortable with the subject matter. If you are embarking on a family law property settlement discussion understand what you are talking about. Consider securing some accounting coaching before your joint meeting if you feel unsure.
  1.       Understand your emotional triggers and where possible consider some personal counselling to help you work through those issues and develop sustainable and constructive strategies so that you can stay in control.
  1.       Practice being empathetic and making the other person feel heard. You are more likely to achieve a “win/win” solution this way.
  1.       Take care of practical issues. If you have the care of children on that day organise someone else to pick them up and look after them for you so that you are not distracted by outside issues.
  1.       Have realistic expectations. If long term agreements are unlikely at the outset brainstorm a list of short-term goals….and prioritise them.
  1.       Have an exit plan worked out early on and definitely before you arrive on the day. Taking greater care of the process can increase your confidence.
  1.       Identify whether there are any issues for you that are non-negotiable. If so, don’t lose sight of these priorities. Keep going back to them in your mind before the mediation begins. In the throes of discussion you can sometimes lose sight of what was most important to you.
  1.   Focus on the problem, not the people. Gather a list of possible third party experts you can call on if you reach an impasse. That way any roadblock may be navigated without ending up at loggerheads with your ex-spouse over an issue which neither of you know very much about.
  1. Ask for a co-mediator of your own gender if you worry about being steamrolled by someone, and there are power dynamics at play which you feel can put your interests at risk. Many mediation services offer co-mediators, so each party has someone they feel is more ‘onside’.

Do you need assistance arranging mediation for your family law matter? Would you like some legal advice before going into a mediation? Please contact Alliance Family Law for advice regarding your particular situation. We are right next door to Relationships Australia, Deakin, Canberra.


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