Separation after a relationship has broken down is a very traumatic experience, and it is often difficult to concentrate and think rationally and logically about decisions that need to be made. Attempting to negotiate a fair division of property at this time can cause a great deal of anxiety, so it is beneficial to agree to participate in mediation to help both parties reach an amicable outcome.Here are five reasons why you should try mediation, rather than entering into litigation to sort out your property settlement.
Reason 1: A Mediator is an independent third party who has no interest in your property settlement (unlike a lawyer). The Mediator works with you both to facilitate open discussion, to look at options and best-case, worst-case scenarios, and encourages the parties to reach conciliation, and agreement as to the property division.
Reason 2: A Mediator cannot make a decision for you, this would be the role of a judge if the matter went to a hearing in a court. Court hearings are open to the public, and parties are cross-examined on their evidence. Mediation sessions are private and confidential and nothing said in the mediation can be used if the matter is later litigated.
Reason 3: The lawyers for both parties can attend a mediation, so you will have legal advice on any discussions that take place. Your lawyer is only there to assist in the discussion, and cannot cross-examine or question the other party. If you are successful in reaching an agreement your lawyers can write up the agreement on the spot, or prepare the documents immediately following the mediation.
Reason 4: There is a fee for mediation, the cost will vary depending on where the mediation is held. A private Mediator will usually charge on an hourly basis, and your lawyer will also charge this way. Mediations held at Relationships Australia, Unifam, Family Centres etc will charge a fee based on your means, but they usually prefer to mediate without your lawyers being present. Any fees payable will be much less than the cost to run the proceedings in a court, which could run into thousands of dollars.
Reason 5: Your property settlement will be resolved in a much shorter time, which means a saving in costs (if your settlement is litigated, all costs are eventually paid out of the asset pool of the parties, meaning you receive much less out of the settlement). A saving of time also means decreasing stress and there is a much better chance that you and your former partner will retain a civil relationship which is vital if there are children of the relationship. Parties rarely enjoy a civil relationship after experiencing a court hearing.
So if you are looking to save time, stress and legal costs you should consider a mediation session. Remember…..you want to divorce your spouse, not your assets!
Lyn Lucas is the owner of Online Divorce Lawyer. With over 20 years experience in family law Lyn empathises with couples going through a separation and a property settlement. Her focus with Online Divorce Lawyer is to reduce the pain and deliver excellent results in the process of a property settlement. With a negotiated fixed fee for this service, couples have certainty as to their legal costs. Visit Lyn’s site and opt in for a complimentary e-book “Guide to Saving Money with a Divorce Property Settlement”.