With World Resolution Day just around the corner on the 20th October, we want to promote the use of mediation to resolve disputes.
One of the most emotion-filled events for which people can use mediation is property settlement during a separation. If you and your ex-partner can’t agree on how you will divide your property then mediation is an excellent way to bypass costly legal proceedings.
By using mediation to divide property, vehicles, finances, superannuation and other assets – as well as discuss the post-separation support of children – those going through a separation are generally less stressed and more easily able to walk away satisfied with the outcome.
What is mediation
The mediation process brings disputing couples together – pre court – in order to discuss issues and attempt to resolve them in a cooperative and fair manner.
Mediations can be self organised or run by a paid third party, who will moderate the meeting in order to ensure all parties have their say and every agreement is legally documented afterwards. Both parties are able to speak freely during a mediation, which helps to clear up any misunderstandings and helps each person to feel validated.
The far-reaching benefits of mediation
Because mediation fosters calm cooperation, every stage of the property settlement process becomes easier to deal with. Some other advantages include:
- Avoiding court and associated costs;
- Resolving issues more quickly;
- Avoiding having to ‘air your dirty laundry’ in a public court;
- Having the chance to tell your side of the story.
Is my case suitable for mediation?
Mediation should always be attempted before taking a dispute to court; however, it isn’t suitable for every person or dispute. If you organise a mediation with a third-party, they will usually complete a pre-meeting assessment to see if dispute resolution is suitable. If you’re holding a DIY mediation, it’s important to organise it at a time where tempers are cool and it’s always a good idea to ask an impartial person to join you. Don’t ever attempt mediation if you have concerns about your safety or the safety of others.
How long will mediation take?
Depending on each individual case, a mediation could take anywhere from two hours to months! A typical mediation for property settlement includes:
- Discussion of each party’s needs, interests and contributions;
- Identification of assets in the asset pool;
- Discussion and negotiation about how best to divide these assets;
- Discussion about custody of any children (or pets, in some cases!);
- Discussion about how communication should be handled in the future;
- Anything else pertaining to your particular dispute.
As you can see, this could be a very quick process for a couple with no children and minimal assets, in comparison to a couple with many assets, assets with no clear division and children.
Why is a binding financial agreement so important?
The primary goal of a mediation process should always be equity between the couple. The process offers the possibility of a peaceful and less complicated resolution, in comparison to the Family Court. It’s important to ensure that decisions made during mediation are legally binding though, so it’s important to back up decisions with a financial agreement.
The easiest way to do this is to download a financial agreement online, before completing a draft agreement during mediation. You are both required to seek independent legal advice about your financial agreement; however, this can also be completed online, with a lawyer advising you via phone or email. It’s a process that makes life so much easier at a difficult time.