Reaching agreement at mediation

Mediation is a formal negotiation process to help you and your ex-partner reach some agreement. You can mediate about property settlement, about your children’s arrangements, or about both.

How do you maximise your chances of reaching an agreement at mediation? Key things include:

Choose a mediator that plays to the strengths of your case

While most mediators are experienced family lawyers, there can be vast differences in mediation styles.

Some mediators are highly directive and evaluative:

  • Be prepared for a reality-check where the weaknesses of your case are drawn to your attention.
  • The mediator is likely to give you their assessment of your likely outcome in court.

Other mediators are more facilitative:

  • Think warm and fuzzy, where your feelings and perspective are validated.
  • The mediator does not offer an opinion on the prospects of your, or your ex-partner’s, case.

Do the necessary groundwork

Your aim is to narrow the issues in dispute before you reach the mediation.

If you’re mediating a property settlement, make sure any property values that are not agreed have been independently valued, and that you have disclosed and received reciprocal disclosure of any relevant financial documents e.g. bank statements.

If it’s a parenting mediation, work out beforehand the things you can agree on.

Be prepared to compromise

Mediation can be hard work, particularly when people go into it with a win/lose mentality. Shift your focus to the bigger picture and be prepared to let go of the small stuff.

Justine Dean – Samford Family Law