What makes us different?
We understand that one model of mediation is not appropriate for all matters. As a private family law mediation provider, we can tailor the process to our clients' needs, drawing upon aspects of both the FDR and mediation models.
Our relationships with other professionals enables us to refer clients to a range of legal and support services including, for parenting matters, the ability to offer child-inclusive practice.
We appreciate that our clients frequently have significant work and parenting commitments, and are keen to progress matters. We endeavour to assist by:
meeting with clients as soon as possible
responding to communications and requests for the issuing of section 60I certificates promptly
accommodating clients requiring appointments at short notice or outside of business hours, including on selected weeknights, weekends and public holidays
facilitating mediations in our office, or at a suitable venue in the Melbourne metropolitan area or regional Victoria (arranged by the clients or their lawyers)
providing typed copies of agreements
preparing parenting plans
Our clients' family lawyers play a valuable role throughout the mediation process. Experienced family lawyers can assist their clients to make fully informed decisions, taking into account matters that are important to the clients, and with full knowledge of the legal implications.
We recommend to every client that, before commencing a family law mediation process and before signing any legally binding agreement, they obtain legal advice from an experienced family lawyer. Our legal experience enables us to identify specific matters about which clients may require further legal advice during the process.
If considered appropriate and agreed by the parties, we can facilitate legally-assisted FDR and mediations that are non-adversarial and child-focussed.
There is no requirement for clients to attend a group information session before their initial meeting with an FDR Practitioner. Clients deal with the same FDR practitioner throughout the process, averting the trauma that can be associated with having to repeat their circumstances to different practitioners.
Our focus is on improving communications.
We use a variety of child-focussed interventions, which take into account each child’s age, maturity and needs. Clients are educated on the impact of conflict on children, and equipped with skills to enhance their post-separation parenting ability and co-parenting relationship.
Clients are required to provide copies of current family violence orders (and the applications for those orders), parenting orders, parenting plans and family reports.
When appropriate, we encourage parents to consider engaging a Child Consultant who meets with each child (4+ years) and uses age-appropriate techniques to build a picture of how the child is coping with the separation and parental conflict - views that may not be expressed in the confines of the family dynamic. It provides the child with an opportunity to tell their story and express their views in a safe, confidential environment.
After meeting with the child on one or more occasions, the Child Consultant meets with the parents and the FDR practitioner. This is called a child-inclusive session. The Child Consultant provides feedback and recommendations which are then used as a guide and reference throughout the FDR process. The Child Consultant will also convey any key messages to the parents that their child would like them to know. Sometimes it is useful for the child to have further sessions with the Child Consultant to provide emotional support to them during this transition time.
Child-inclusive FDR provides parents with an opportunity to understand what life looks like from their child’s perspective and allows their child’s voice to be heard. It is designed to enhance collaboration between parents and keep the child’s best interests at the forefront of discussions and decision-making. Child-inclusive FDR can also help separated parents to develop co-operative parenting strategies for the future.
We tailor the child-inclusive FDR process to suit the needs of our clients and their child. This is mapped out in the first FDR session. After creating an agenda, we identify the issues of immediate concern that can be or need to be discussed that day and the issues about which discussion will be deferred until later in the process.
Our principal concerns are to:
avoid the possibility of systems abuse (due to a child attending multiple professionals), and
ensure that each child has access to any external emotional support they may require
Our focus is on facilitating the sharing of information, and just and equitable decision-making, starting with the pre-action procedures for financial cases.
Clients are requested to provide copies of all financial court orders and agreements, any asset appraisals or valuations, and a Financial Statement, Balance Sheet and chronology of events (preferably prepared or reviewed by their lawyers).
For child support matters, clients are requested to provide copies of all documents and correspondence from the Department of Human Services (Child Support Agency) including administrative assessments and decisions, and any child support agreement.
Our fixed fee mediations for family law property matters are particularly cost-effective for those involving smaller asset pools.
For lawyers based in regional areas, we can facilitate a "mediation circuit" prior to a court circuit.
Clients or their lawyers are asked to provide copies of the parenting and financial documents listed above under FDR.