Is Mediation Compulsory In Family Law?

by | Jan 5, 2022 | Latest News, Mediation and Arbitration, Mediations, News

At Rafton Family Lawyers we are frequently consulted by separated families asking if mediation is compulsory.

There are a number of ways that parties can discuss arrangements for children and talk about the division of their assets.  This can include:

  1. Discussions between themselves directly;
  2. Using a friend or family member; or
  3. An informal general mediation 

However, pursuant to the recent changes to the Family Law Act 1975, it is now compulsory except in exceptional circumstances to consult an accredited family dispute resolution practitioner after the breakdown of a relationship.  This is so that a formal mediation process can be instigated if the parties cannot reach an agreement themselves through other informal means.

What is Family Dispute Resolution?

Family dispute resolution is a special type of mediation that helps families after they separate reach agreements.  The focus will be on the dispute as well as options available and is not a form of counseling or reconciliation.  It is a very specific mediation process aimed at trying to reach an agreement after separation not to repair the relationship or marriage.

There are several ways that mediation can be attempted.  This can include:

  1. Through an accredited mediator.   This is through both a government-funded process through the Family Relationship Centres; or
  2. Through a private mediator who is accredited.

At Rafton Family Lawyers we frequently see clients and assist them to provide advice and information. We highly recommend that you book an initial consultation with an accredited family law specialist first to obtain details about your rights and responsibilities and then embark on a mediation process after the initial consultation if your matter is ready to proceed.

In most cases, mediation is a paid service but can be incredibly effective in reaching agreements.

Is There any Situation Where I Do Not Need to Mediate?

There are several reasons that sometimes mediation is not appropriate.  This could be where:

  1. There is already an agreement between the parties;
  2. Where there is significant family violence or child abuse factor;
  3. Where there is an urgent issue; or
  4. Where the matter is already before the Court and you are responding to an application;
  5. Where you have already attended mediation in the previous 12 months and this is part of the same issue;
  6. Where someone is unable to participate effectively such as incapacity or other issues

In those situations, there is the opportunity to proceed directly to court and obtain an exemption of the requirement for mediation and this can also be discussed at your consultation.

At Rafton Family Lawyers we can provide information and assistance through our specialized family law team at our offices throughout Western Sydney including Penrith, Parramatta, St Marys, Glenmore Park, and our Sydney office.

Rafton Family Lawyers Specialist Family Law team offer mediations with no fee for room hire at our offices at Penrith, Richmond, St Marys, and Parramatta.  Our family law office in Sydney is available for mediation at a small fee.

For bookings in relation to mediation or for further assistance please contact us on 13004FAMILY.