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How does family law mediation work?

Mediation is a key component to any family law dispute where the parties come together with their family lawyers or individually with a mediator to resolve their dispute. Whether it be a mediation in relation to parenting arrangements or to try to settle a property dispute, family law mediation is a good starting point.

Most divorces will resolve at some form of mediation. This is because both parties have the ability to meet with their solicitors and an independent mediator to work on the issues at present and come up with an agreement that everybody can live with. Resolving your case at mediation also has two key benefits that should not be overlooked:

you get to decide your own outcome; and

Rather than waiting in line for a Judge to make a decision about your case, that you might not be happy with, resolving your case at mediation is one way of resolving things the way you want. This gives you the power and will likely give you a greater sense of satisfaction from the process.

the legal fees are significantly reduced.

This is a point that should not be overstated. Going to Court is not only a costly but very time consuming and emotionally taxing process. If you are able to come to a resolution at mediation then the costs, delay and stress of Court will all be avoided.

Depending on the type of dispute you are having there is mediation available to you.


The Family Law Act place a heavy emphasis on mediation in parenting matters. Working out what is in the best interests of your child is often best achieved by the parents coming together and discussing what arrangements are best. At times the role of a solicitor is to give parents some common terms and best practice guidance. The aim though is for parents to come to a resolution together.

Family Dispute Resolution

If parents cannot come to an agreement together then an option is to attend family dispute resolution. This is designed to help parents seek the professional assistance of a nationally accredited mediator who can work with you to achieve an outcome that is in the children’s best interests.

Mediation gives parents the ability to reach their own resolution. A national accredited family dispute resolution practitioner can then help guide parents to navigate the many aspects of a child’s life that need assistance. These range from who the child lives with to how overseas holidays work.

Private Mediation

Parties may also prefer to organise their mediation so that their solicitor can be present. Victoria Legal Aid offers this service and there are also options available to do this privately.

This means that both parents, their respective solicitors and a mediator work together to try to negotiate an arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. This again deals with topics such as who the child lives with but has the added bonus of having your family lawyer there who can advise you on:

  1. What arrangements usually work in circumstances similar to yours;
  2. How a Court considers different issues; and
  3. The cost to proceed to Court if mediation cannot be reached.

If agreement is reached at mediation

If agreement has been reached then you can confirm the agreement in a Parenting Plan or Consent Orders.


If you have a family law property dispute that you are unable to resolve then mediation is a possible avenue to embark upon. As with parenting mediation, a property mediation can result in you being able to make your own decision about how property is divided and also avoid legal costs of attending family court.

In Victoria if the asset pool is over $500,000 then a Court will likely order the parties to attend mediation. It is therefore advisable to try to mediate your dispute before going to Court, if possible.

A mediation allows both parties, their family lawyers and a mediator to try to reach a settlement of their property disputes. It is common that parties will exchange an Outline of Case document outlining their respective arguments so that the issues are well known.

What if agreement is not reached at mediation?

If the parties don’t reach an agreement at mediation they can have their matter determined by the courts. This does not prevent the couple from having another mediation or resolving the matter before the court date.

How we can Help…

Our family lawyers are skilled in negotiating at mediations and ensure that our clients are prepared and organised for their mediation. They are tough on vigorously pursuing entitlements and getting to a favourable settlement on the day, where possible.

To speak to a family lawyer about family law mediation call us on 1300 907 335 or complete an online enquiry form and we will be in contact with you promptly.

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