Non FDR Family Mediation

 

Whether you are seeking Family Mediation for family disputes, which  include disagreements around relationship separation, and/or  issues focusing on day to day care of children, and/or issues of relationship property / finance, Timothy will  be able to help. Timothy is an accredited panel mediator with Resolution Institute . Please see here for full details of FDR Family Dispute Resolution.

introduction to family MEDIATION

Why Choose Family Mediation?

When thinking about the way forward you may wish to consider the many benefits of family mediation, namely:

  • It helps reduce hostility and improves the chances of long term co-operation.
  • The mediation process tends to be less confrontational and less antagonistic.
  • Mediation concentrates on resolving shared problems rather than emphasising entrenched and polarised positions.
  • When related to children - it focuses on the best interests of children by helping you to recognise and meet their needs as parents even when you are no longer a couple.
  • Mediation provides the opportunity for you to work in a positive and constructive way.
  • Mediation provides an opportunity to assess whether there is any possibility of a co-operative outcome to your dispute.
  • Most parties using mediation to reach agreement have lower legal costs.
  • You control the pace and content of mediation rather than lawyers, legislation or the Family Court.
  • You can improve communication and look to the future, not the past.
  • Mediation is less stressful for you and indirectly, for your children.
  • The mediation process tends to be quicker than dealing with disputes through Legal Representatives and the Family Court process.
  • Mediation usually takes place face to face so you hear the other person’s words and are able to speak directly, rather than through letters and solicitors.
  • Even if, for one reason or another, mediation does not in your particular case result in an agreement, there will almost always be benefits from having attended mediation.
  • Where mediation is not successful, you can return to your lawyer with either partial or complete financial disclosure., if you have chosen to look at relationship property/financial issues.  This should save your own lawyer a good deal of work which means savings in time and your costs.
  • Mediation has been proven to reduce the emotional stress involved in family conflict and relationship breakdown and can save unnecessary legal costs.

Using mediation helps you to find ways to communicate with each other as separated parents and is a more amicable model than the traditional adversarial legal approach.

Family mediation tends to fall into three different categories, day to day care of children mediation, relationship property/financial mediation and all issues mediation. Explanations on all three types of mediation follow later in this page.

What is Family Mediation?

Family Mediation is:

a process by which couples negotiate face to face about the arrangements for their future with the help of a neutral third party – a Family Mediator;

  • a safe place to resolve your differences at your own pace;
  • an opportunity to recognise the needs of your children as well as yourselves;
  • a way of helping you to reach agreements which take account of all your needs, concerns and interests;
  • comprehensive – we can look at all the issues together;
  • confidential, save for the sharing of financial information and any concerns about child protection;
  • suitable for all couples - married, de facto and civil union, and for any other adults/guardians with a legitimate interest in the day to day care and well being of children, which will often include grandparents and other family/whanau members.  

There are four main principles which underpin successful mediation: 

  1. Mediation is voluntary. There will be no undue pressure on you to participate in the process, although increasingly Family Courts expect you to have attempted mediation before starting Court proceedings. In particular, mediators will be cautious about proceeding in cases of abuse or violence or an extreme imbalance of power.
  2. The mediators are impartial – mediators will not direct or express a personal opinion. (Although mediators will not give advice, they will often provide substantial information and guidance).
  3. Mediation is confidential, unless there are issues of Child Protection, Domestic Violence, money laundering, or terrorism. Any set of proposals that are mutually acceptable will be written up as a confidential summary which will not be legally binding unless and until ratified by lawyers and made into an order in the family Court, and most contents cannot be referred to in Family Court proceedings. There must however be comprehensive disclosure of financial information, if relationship/property/financial mediation is being undertaken; this can be shared with lawyers or with the Family Court at a later stage.
  4. Decision making rests with the participants; that is, you are treated as the experts in dealing with your children, your finances and your future.

     

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    day to day care family mediation

    What is day to day care Family Mediation?  What are Children's issues?

    Day and day care and children issues will typically include:

    • Where do the children live, and with who?  Week about?   5 days and 2 days?
    • Contact arrangements with the non-resident parent
    • Schooling
    • Holidays and special days (eg birthdays)
    • Christmas
    • Parenting plans and agreements
    • Extended families
    • Step-family/blended family issues

    In fact, the list includes whatever you see as an issue to be resolved around your child/children.

    Family Mediation can help you to find a successful way forward as separated parents, by:

    • Helping you recognise and remember that the breakdown of your relationship is due to differences that you and your partner have. Responsibility for this lies with you and not your child/children.
    • Identifying issues you need to address regarding your children. Parents often have more points of agreement than disagreement. Identifying problems early and resolving conflict avoids getting entrenched in protracted disputes. The longer a problem is left, the worse it can become.
    • Focusing on the interests of your child/children and helping you to recognise and meet their needs as parents even when you are no longer a couple. Your child/children’s best interest should always be paramount and their own wishes and feelings need to be taken into account bearing in mind the age of the child.   Encouraging you to look at ways to keep the child/children informed that you are working together, as parents and that you will do what is best for them.
    • Helping you control the pace, identify the issues and solutions. You control the process and you make the decision as to what is best for your child/children.

    What is Direct Contact with Children?

    Direct consultation with children involves a family mediator, who is appropriately trained, and often referred to as a Child Consultant, talking with a child or children as a result of issues raised in mediation regarding children’s arrangements.

    During the course of mediation, it may be suggested by the Family Mediator, or by the parents, or a child may ask to be involved in the mediation process. It is important that parents understand the views, needs and desires of their children and involving them in direct consultation may be the appropriate way forward. Children like to be informed and they appreciate having their views and options heard but not to be responsible for the overall decision.

    Involving children in mediation can be very complex and a great deal of preparation is needed before a Child Consultant can speak to a child of the family. Different considerations may apply according the age and maturity of the child.

    Timothy has received specific training on speaking with Children as a Child Consultant.  Direct consultation with a child means that the child is talking face to face with the mediator separately and in complete confidence, away from anyone else including their parents. In many instances, children wish some of their views to be fed back into the decision-making process and this will be facilitated with their permission.

    The Child Consultation may be undertaken by a separate family mediator (or mediators) from the family mediator dealing with the parents, or by the mediator working with the adult parties. Consultations with children last approximately 45 minutes and siblings must be seen separately with occasionally the offer of seeing them together as well.  Children should generally be aged 10 years and over but younger children may be seen in exceptional circumstances.

     

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    How long will it take?

    Usually it takes between two and four family mediation meetings for parties to reach final agreements for their child’s/children's day to day care plans - sometimes these will evolve over a number of months and parties will return to Family Mediation before the formal end to review, refine and change where necessary any part of the plan.

    What happens at the end of Day to Day Care Family Mediation?

    The mediator will normally prepare a Memorandum of Understanding, which is a document detailing your proposals, and this can be used by your lawyer to prepare a legally binding agreement. mediator normally prepares an Open Financial Summary which sets out a summary of assets, liabilities, income and expenditure, and separately a legally privileged Memorandum of Understanding; this is a document setting out your situation and proposals and may be shown to a Lawyer to obtain independent legal advice. If you wish, it is possible to have this document implemented as a legally binding agreement which a lawyer can do for you.

    relationship property/finance and all issues mediaiton

    What is Relationship Property/Finance Mediation?

    When a couple separate there are often relationship property/finance issues to be discussed and agreed.  A Family Mediator can help you do this in Family Mediation.

    These may include the family home, mortgage, rental agreements, cars, the contents of the home, building society accounts, bank accounts, savings, pensions , maintenance and child support. Finance also includes all income and expenditure. This list is not exhaustive.

    How does it work?

    When considering  Relationship Property/Finance issues the mediator will help you to;

    • Clarify your property details and finances. This may sound strange, however a separating couple may not know all of the details of their own and each other’s property, income and expenditure. This is normally done by asking you and your partner/former partner to complete a financial questionnaire and supply supporting documents. This is exactly the same as you would be asked to do if you went to court.
    • Identify areas of agreement and difference. It may be that some things are clear cut and others may be more complex and need further investigation.
    • Prioritise the issues.
    • Examine options giving consideration to needs and expectations.
    • Formulate proposals acceptable to both of you. For instance, is the house to be sold now or at a future stage? How do you divide the proceeds?

    Why do I need to do this?

    To ensure

    • That you fully understand each other’s financial situation and needs prior to any proposals being reached.
    • That you receive the correct information from the mediator regarding your options.
    • To enable you to receive independent legal advice upon any proposals before they are made into a application for a Court Order.

    How long will it take?

    Usually it takes between two and four family mediation meetings. There may be some time in between meetings as you may be asked to complete questionnaires and obtain supporting documentation. This will dictate the pace forward.

    What happens at the end of Relationship Property/Finance Mediation?

    The mediator will normally prepare an Open Financial Summary which sets out a summary of assets, liabilities, income and expenditure, and separately a legally privileged Memorandum of Understanding; this is a document setting out your situation and proposals and may be shown to a Lawyer to obtain independent legal advice. If you wish, it is possible to have this document implemented as a legally binding agreement which a lawyer can do for you.

    All Issues Mediation

    If you are experiencing the breakdown of a relationship and need to make decisions about your future finances and arrangements for children, one option is to seek the help of a qualified mediator to help you reach agreement on all these important matters.

    Before the first mediation session together your mediator will talk to you and your partner/former partner separately about the kind of issues that you have and would like to discuss within mediation. Sometimes these are obvious and sometimes they will be matters that you had not thought about before.

    What is all issues mediation?

    Quite simply, All Issues mediation covers issues of relationship property/finance and matters relating to day to day care of children. Timothy has undertaken intensive, extensive and on-going training to deal with all of these issues.

    How long will it take?

    This kind of mediation will take longer than a children only mediation or a mediation relating only to relationship property/finance, simply because it seeks to deal with many more issues than the other types of mediation described above.  All issues mediation normally requires between three and six meetings.

    What happens at the end of the mediation?

    The mediator will normally prepare a legally privileged Memorandum of Understanding, which is a document detailing your proposals relating to day to day care matters and relating to relationship property/finance matters, and this can be used by your lawyer to prepare a legally binding agreement for submission to the Family Court.  

    The Mediator will also  prepares an Open Financial Summary which sets out a summary of assets, liabilities, income and expenditure. 


    Family Mediation is NOT

    • Reconciliation – although the mediation process is designed to help improve communication between mediating parties. Mediation can be used by parties to discuss whether separation and/or divorce is the appropriate action to take. Information may be provided by the mediator upon how to implement those decisions, and the mediator may suggest relationship counselling or other forms of help and support.
    • Counselling – the mediator is an independent, impartial negotiator. In the event of either party requiring counselling the mediator may be able to provide information upon how to contact an appropriate counsellor or counselling service.
    • A substitute for legal advice - although the need for lawyers may be substantially reduced. Mediators are able to provide you with a great deal of information however they do not advise the parties to mediation and will suggest that you each take independent legal advice.
    • An opportunity to impose views upon the other party to the mediation. The mediator ensures that both parties have the opportunity to air their views and to consider all aspects of the dispute prior to any proposals being reached.
    • An opportunity to abuse participants to the mediation process. Various safeguards and checks are in place and these ensure that mediation sessions are carried out in the safest situation possible. A mediator may terminate mediation in the event of abuse of any party or the mediation process.
    • Uncertain. Litigation is by its very nature uncertain in its outcome. When mediation succeeds, a final decision is reached there and then. Even when that does not happen, the areas of consensus and dispute are clarified.
    • Legally binding unless the parties to the mediation wish to enter into a legally binding agreement based upon the proposals arrived at within the mediation process. Usually, the outcome of mediation is then put into a legally binding format through lawyers for submission to the Family Court.
    • Unlike the Family Court process where ultimately the judge makes the decisions for you, the parties to the mediation are completely involved in the decision making process. Proposals are arrived at by agreement and are not imposed.