As a family dispute resolution practitioner (Family Law Mediator) the first and sometimes biggest challenge I face in providing family dispute resolution services is getting the second person to a family conflict to say yes to participate.
This article is designed to provide you with three good reasons for why I think you should say yes to Family Dispute Resolution with Interact Support.
Often when people refuse to participate in family dispute resolution it is because they think that going to court will sort things out easier.
If you think that you are wrong.
Family Court is not a quick or easy process. If you don’t believe me I strongly encourage you to go to the family court near you and hang out for the day. See what is going on.
In some states there are restrictions on going into the court room but in most you can go in and watch the proceedings.
You will see how little ability people have to tell their story and convince the judge. Your “story” is told in the form of written affidavits and filtered through the reports from a Family Report Writer who will meet with you and your children.
Sometimes going to court is the only option. We’d really encourage you to think about Family Court as the last play you go not the first place you try.
It is going to cost you a lot of money if you have a private lawyer. Even if you are eligible for legal aid it is a process that is going to dominate your life for months or even years.
The main reason to avoid the court is that agreements are always better than orders when it comes to parenting.
You can’t force another parent through court orders to be reasonable. It just doesn’t work that way.
Breaches of Family Court Orders are common and costly to take back to court with little likelihood of getting substantial change.
Eventually if it is clear to the court that it is impossible for you to put your own fight with each other to the side and work with each other they may pick a parent to give the majority of the care for children to but there is no guarantee it is you.
Some judges may decide that strongly expressed views by children is the result of parental alienation and order the child to live with the other parent.
Sometimes your concerns about the other parent will not be believed, especially if you can’t provide evidence of behaviour that only occurs in private.
One way to understand how court judgements work in contested cases is to look at the published judgements. These are cases where they have changed the names of the parties but report on the findings. http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdb/au/cases/cth/FamCA/
One of the biggest reasons that people refuse to engage with Family Dispute Resolution is fear.
I respect that and you no doubt have your reasons for being fearful. One thing you may not be aware of is that Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners have post graduate qualifications in working with victims and users of family violence.
We have an understanding of the issues. We know that most people who use family violence don’t look like monsters. We know that they can be extremely charming and seem to be such a nice person. Sometimes they are as long as everything is going their way. It is when they are not getting what they want that they use abusive, coercive controlling methods to try to force others to do what they want.
So if your instincts are screaming at you to say no to Family Dispute Resolution what is it that you are frightened of?
Family dispute resolution is confidential. It can’t be used as evidence against you.
You can make offers, consider proposals and even trial possible solutions all without being locked in to them.
That is the benefit of the process. It isn’t about forcing each other to do things. It is about solving problems you have with regards to your parenting after separation.
If you can reach an agreement that you are both comfortable with then you can sign it so that it becomes a parenting plan or even apply for court orders based on it.
You shortcut the court process and save yourself tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars by reaching an agreement and then applying to the court for orders.
If you think you will “cave in” and agree to things that you don’t want to the fact that the process isn’t binding unless you take extra steps gives you protection to know that you will always be given time to think and time to cool off if you have agreed to something you don’t think you can live with.
Co-parenting agreements are never going to work if they are forced on someone or under duress. Our goal is to provide you with the information, support and tools you need to make good decisions for your family moving forward.
With Interact Support you don’t have to do that.
Our policy is that if there is a family violence order you won’t be meeting face to face.
We will offer video mediation. That means you don’t have to travel to the same physical location for shuttle mediation and you can be at a support persons place or office for the mediation if you want to.
If you don’t want to speak with them at all we offer video shuttle mediation (where you are both online at the same time ) or mediator facilitated negotiation (where we help you to make and consider offers and proposals).
Before any of that there will be an individual, confidential pre-mediation meeting with you to discuss the situation, your concerns and what you want.
We would never proceed if we form a strong belief that mediation would make things worse.
We can help you with a safety plan if during the discussion vulnerabilities to future family violence are identified.
We are mandatory reporters and always on the look out for issues that may affect your children’s well-being.
Family Dispute Resolution always starts with a confidential pre-mediation process
Saying yes when approached by Interact Support for Family Dispute Resolution isn’t saying yes to being in a room with your ex. It is saying yes to start a process that is designed to protect you from family violence while helping you to sort out issues that are a problem for you and for your kids.
You have the right and ability to say no to anything that isn’t right for you at any stage in the process.
A practice direction is a notice from a court, in this case the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, to Litigants, including self-represented litigants, and legal