What is Mediation

Mediation is basically a way of settling a dispute without having to going to court. Disputing parties identify issues of concern and explore them together with the assistance of a neutral third party. This involves a process of making proposals or coming up with possible solutions, reality testing them and choosing a solution both parties can live with. If you say ‘No’ to a proposal you will be asked to table an alternative. Making demands or trying to convince the other party that you’re right and they’re wrong is unlikely to achieve lasting resolution.

There is an over-riding expectation that participants will make full and frank disclosure as to the circumstances of their dispute and be prepared to reach agreement. Attendance is usually voluntary - except for Family Law matters involving children. Under the Family law Act 1975 these matters require parties to attend something called Family Dispute Resolution (aka Mediation) before applying to have their matter dealt with in court.

At Northern Frontiers an experienced mediator will assess whether your dispute matter is appropriate for mediation before inviting the other party to the process. You will be asked to provide contact details for the other party and give your permission for us to contact them. Both parties must agree to mediate before the process can begin. Participation can be face-to-face or via telephone depending on the Mediator’s assessment of circumstances surrounding the dispute. Participant and staff safety is prioritised throughout all mediation matters.

Mediation sessions typically run for two and a half hours. Longer or shorter sessions may be arranged depending on the number of agenda items.

Advantages of Mediation

Mediation saves you time and money and is usually less stressful than litigation.  It offers disputing parties a way of working together to resolve their dispute as opposed to being pitted against one another in a court environment. By working together relationships can be strengthened and protected from further harm. This is particularly relevant to co-parenting relationships as the number one risk factor for children experiencing family separation is ongoing parental conflict.

Mediation can be conducted in person at our Cairns office or via telephone (an option that greatly reduces disruption to your work/life schedule and is accessible from any location throughout Australia). 

Role of the Mediator

As the neutral third party, mediators are primarily responsible for managing the mediation process and facilitating conversation and problem-solving between disputing parties. A mediator may offer examples of how similar disputes have been resolved but they cannot make decisions for you.

If agreement is reached the Mediator will record your agreement and forward a copy to both parties. You are strongly advised to seek legal advice before, during and after mediation. This can be done by speaking with a lawyer. If your matter involves a parenting or property settlement issue you are advised to speak with a Family Law Lawyer i.e. a lawyer who specialises in family law.

Types of matters that might typically be mediated

Most non-criminal matters may be assessed as appropriate for mediation. These might include a dispute with a neighbour over positioning of security lights - or disagreement about intrusive vegetation. Family mediation quite often involves disagreement around informal loans or inheritance issues - while disputes between business partners may involve ownership, workload or investment issues.

Disputes involving separated families and arrangements for children may be suitable for family law mediation. At Northern Frontiers a fully qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (aka Mediator) is available to assist separated families develop Parenting Plans and Property Agreements. The Mediator is fully accredited with the Attorney General’s Department and is therefore qualified to issue S60I certificates where appropriate. Recommended Reading - ‘Moving On - What you need to know about Separation and Divorce’ by Julie Hodge, a leading Family Lawyer in Cairns. For more information or to purchase a copy, please click here.

If you are unsure about the suitability of your dispute for mediation, please consult our friendly reception staff. Flexible Appointments: 7:30am to 4pm weekdays and from 8:30 Sundays. Out of normal business hours appointments tend to fill fast so please book early to avoid disappointment. Simply call 1300 90 81 70 or email: reception@northernfrontiers.com.au