Frequently Asked Questions about Alternative Dispute Resolution or contact us directly
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Also see What is Mediation? What is Conciliation? What is Facilitation? What is Arbitration? and What is Med-Arb?
1. Why would I choose Alternative Dispute Resolution?
- At best, every court battle has one winner and one loser, quite often neither party gets what they want. Court is a risky process. Even the very best lawyers cannot guarantee a win. Judges and magistrates decisions will vary. Litigation is very stressful, time consuming and expensive exercise where character assasiniations and unreasonable demands ruin any chance of a respectful and productive relationship in the future. Mediation helps all parties to get what they need quickly and in-expensively in an effective peacful and co-operative process.
- A decision made by a court of law may be legally binding, but unpopular decisions can make parties feel cheated, angry, frustrated and unwilling to abide by that decision. It is for this reason that court orders are often contravened. This causes even greater stress and expense for everyone involved.
- The Alternative Dispute Resolution suite of processes are non-adversarial alternatives to court. Through the facilitation process of mediation, disputants are assisted to work together to craft agreements that all parties can live with, whilst protecting important relationships.
- Children of parents in dispute are badly affected by court battles that use them as weapons against a parent they love. As the battle rages parents' stress levels increase and children caught in the crossfire are wounded by their anger, denigration of the other parent and neglect as the parents are engaged in their own internal and external conflicts. Mediation on the other hand teaches children that working together to resolve disputes in a cooperative process can work to everyone's advantage. Parents model adult behaviour and respectful communication.
- Mediated agreements are generally more robust than imposed orders, as the parties have been assisted to work together to work out what is in their best interests and decide their own best outcomes.
- Mediation costs far less than going to court.
- Communication can be improved through mediation, personal and business relationships are likely to be maintained or restored through the mediation process.
- Mediation is co-operative and non-adversarial. There is no judgement made, or character assassination involved to destroy reputation and relationships.
- Mediation is far less stressful than court proceedings.
- Parties decide on the issues to be mediated.
- Mediators control the process, helping parties to move forward rather than backwards or in circles.
- There is no risking a judge to impose an unpopular order upon them.
- Resolution can beclose at hand. Mediation may take only one session or a few sessions and can be arranged at short notice.
- Mediation can be utilised to resolve almost any type of dispute, as long as there is no current violence or abuse.
- The process is confidential; any records taken during the mediation are destroyed and cannot be recalled.
- Confidentiality helps assure parties are able speak openly and communicate more effectively, increasing the liklihood of agreement.
- Mediation is not always a choice. It is compulsory in many areas of the law, prior to going to filing for court
3. What if there are many issues?
- There usually are. Often more than parties expect. All issues can be explored, discussed, options generated and resolved.
4. How long does mediation take?
- That depends very much on the number and complexity of issues, the parties' ability to talk respectfully to each other and to negotiate.
- Mediation usually involves 1 session or occassionally, if there are greater complexities, 2 to 3 joint sessions per case.
- Major multi-party mediations can require more sessions.
5. What happens after my email enquiry to InterMEDIATE Dispute Management is received?
- A mediator will contact you, usually within 24 hours, either by phone or return email for a telephone intake - we will ask you some basic questions about your situation and the name etc of the other party..
- We confirm with you what you are seeking to resolve and send you an information package which includes an Agreement to Mediate or Terms of Family Dispute Resolution, which further details the mediation process. Also included is a fee schedule, the Mediators' Profiles and a flyer.
- When you are satisfied that our services will suit your needs you book and pay for (at the hourly rate) your Pre-Mediation Assessment. This confidential telephone assessment a is vital part of our process. This takes about an hour, and can be usually organised within 24 to 48 hours.
- Your Pre-Mediation Assessment will provide us with information about the dispute from your perspective, gives us an opportunity to prepare you for mediation and it that ensures our process is safe for you and that we can contact the other party.
- The other party is contacted and we organise their intake and then Pre-Mediation Assessment.
- Following this, and provided that mediation is suitable, if we are all in agreement, the first joint session is booked and paid for. Documents to help you prepare for the mediation and the Agreement to Mediate are sent to you, and venue is booked.
- The 4 hour joint session is run by 2 mediators in the co-model. It is highly structured to ensure the process moves in a forward direction towards agreement. We will provide you with detailed information about the joint session during your Pre-Mediation Assessment.
- At the end of the joint session/s each party is provided with printed mediated agreements or interim agreements, which can be signed on the spot. Other agencies can take weeks to send out agreements to be signed. We avoid delays as they can lead to misunderstandings and weak agreements.
6. Who makes the decisions?
- Mediators do not make decisions or give advice. Through the mediation process, parties themselves are encouraged and assisted to thoroughly explore all issues, negotiate and generate many options before deciding what suits them best. Agreements are only made after thorough reality testing and future pacing.
7. Are mediators qualified?
- Yes. All InterMEDIATE Dispute Management Pty Ltd mediators are qualified, nationally accredited, highly skilled and experienced.
- They attend regular seminars regularly to update their skills and competencies (CME)
- Only ACCREDITED Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners are able to supply (s)60I certificates, which are now needed for all new parenting disputes in family law cases, prior to filing for court. These (s)60I Certificates will state whether each party made a genuine effort to resolve their issues in Family Dispute Resolution. It is up to the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner to decide this.
8. Who will conduct my mediation?
- This depends on the type of dispute. InterMEDIATE Dispute Management’s associates may specialise in family, workplace, commercial, community or other areas. We match the mediators to the type of dispute and the parties' needs.
- InterMEDIATE Dispute Management has 18 mediators with a combined 200+ years of experience.
- Two mediators, a male and a female, will usually conduct each session.
- Supporting the mediators and the practice are clinical supervisors who monitor every case and debrief with the mediators after each session.
9. Are all mediations conducted in the same way?
- No. There are over 200 models of mediation. InterMEDIATE Dispute Management uses an advanced, cutting edge approach designed on Principle Based Negotiation techniques by Ury and Fisher. It was Abraham Maslow who said that people are happy when their needs are met. We have a client centred, needs based approach.
- InterMEDIATE Dispute Management mediates during and after hours, seven days a week.
10. Where does the mediation take place?
- InterMEDIATE Dispute Management provides an Outreach service. Mediations are usually conducted in at a suitable neutral venue which we can organise, in most areas in Australia or your home or office - if appropriate. This allows flexibility, privacy, convenience and confidentiality. Our choice of venues allows us to select a venue to cater for multiple parties.
- InterMEDIATE Dispute Management also provides an effective telephone conferencing or shuttle mediation service when required.
11. Do I need to bring anything along to the mediation?
- To enable financial and property settlements you should bring any records of assets and liabilities - purchases, gifts, deeds, superannuation documents, bank statements, shares, dividends, and all other relevant material for the other party to see. A comprehensive checklist will be provided to you prior to mediation.
12. What if I don’t wish to be in the same room as the other party?
- In this case, shuttle mediation can be provided. This is where parties are in separate rooms. The mediators move back and forth between the parties. Shuttle is not our favoured process as it can be clunky, inefficient, it is less likely for parties to reach agreement and it takes at least twice as long as face to face or Telephone Dispute Resolution.
- Telephone dispute resolution utilising 2 mediators (TDR Co) is usually preferrable to shuttle as it is more efficient, allows parties to hear each other and is usually favoured by parties and mediator. It is a very effective method of mediation which is safe and convenient.
13. What if distance is an issue?
- Telephone Dispute Resolution in the Co-Model (TDR-Co) or telephone conferencing mediation can be utilised when parties are in different cities or even on opposite sides of the earth.
14. When is the best time to mediate a dispute?
- Naturally the optimum time is as early as possible, before too much damage to relationships has occurred. However, mediation can occur at any time, even before during and after court proceedings.
- If emotions are very raw and parties find mediation difficult, counselling may be recommended in conjunction with mediation. Support persons are welcome in mediation.
15. Is every dispute mediatable?
- Mostly. Ideally, mediation happens when both parties are ready and willing to sort out their issues. However, where there is a high level of abuse involved, threat or current violence, emotionality that gets in the way of the ability to negotiate, mental illness, drug or alcohol addiction, or when one party refuses to participate, mediation cannot proceed. In cases of refusal, certificates required by a court will indicate this, court costs may be awarded accordingly and the parties sent back to mediation.
16. What happens if the other party is not willing or does not understand how mediation is beneficial?
- Mediation may be compulsory, prior to filing a case in the court system.
- We will contact the other party, and send them our information, and attempt to engage them in our services.
- We explain the benefits of mediation. These benefits are well known, recorded, explained on our site as well as sent in our information pack.
- Mediation has an outstanding success rate in reaching agreements that suit everyone, especially when parties are willing and co-operative.
17. What advice will a mediator give me?
- Mediators do not give advice. We strongly suggest you get appropriate legal and/or financial advice prior to mediation if you need it.
- A Registered Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner may give information about parenting and other family services as required by law.
18. Can my lawyer be present in mediation?
- Yes. You can bring a lawyer or a support person if you desire. However, all parties and the mediators must be in agreement about who is involved in the mediation.
19. Confidentiality. Some of my issues are highly personal or may compromise my position if the dispute did end up in court. I may not want to discuss anything that may compromise my position. How will this be handled?
- Any new information revealed in mediation is privileged and not admisable in court.
- All matters discussed in Mediation are confidential. Except for the Agreement to Mediate and contact details, anything written, printed or stored electronically will be destroyed or deleted after the mediation. Please store your agreements securely.
- Mediators cannot be called to give evidence in any court, about any issues discussed in mediation, except where required by law eg if a crime has been committed.
- There are instances where confidentiality is broken - such as allegations of child abuse, current violence, workplace bullying etc, that will be reported to the relevant agency.
- All contact between mediators and parties is confidential.
- Engaging InterMEDIATE Dispute Management services is an agreement to maintain confidentiality.
20. Will mediators provide counselling or legal advice?
- No. Mediation is not counselling, nor do mediators provide legal advice. Parties should seek legal advice prior to mediation, if required. Legal advisors can attend mediation.
- If counselling is required, you may be referred to an appropriate counsellor. This can be helpful before and during mediation to ensure you are ready and able to mediate.
- The transformative nature of mediation naturally helps parties to feel much more settled and satisfied when disputes are over and their lives and their needs are met.
21. What about education?
- There may be an element of education to assist with future communication, parenting matters and workplace and commercial relationships as a result of the mediation process.
22. Can mediation help my children?
- Definitely. Family Dispute Resolution always has the children’s best interests as paramount. Parents are assisted to recognise needs of children at different ages and stages of child development.
- If desired, there may be Child Inclusive Practice take place. A qualified child consultant interviews the children. This is not about asking children which parent they prefer, or whom they wish to live with, or put them through an unpleasant process. It does use specialised techniques to find out how their parents conflict is impacting upon them and to identify possible problems that parents can help them with.
- We can provide valuable information about parenting after separation and about how to manage a co-parenting relationship.
23. What about mediation for longstanding disputes?
- All types of disputes can be mediated, however as disputes can become entrenched and more bitter and more difficult to resolve. Early intervention is always best.
24. Our family is blended. We have step children and our issues are very complex. How can you help us?
- Mediation is a highly effective process to promote respect and understanding amongst step family members, restore and repair all types of relationships. We have specialist help available when needed.
- As in all Family Law Mediation, the best interests of the children are paramount.
25. My new/former spouse plays an integral part in the daily lives of our children and needs to be involved in any decision made. Can he/she attend?
- When desirable and agreed, all parties who have an interest in the dispute can be a party. This includes former spouses and new spouses.
- Naturally all parties are bound by the ground rules establised at the beginning of mediation.
- Court processes can be lengthy and expensive - depleting much of the disputed estate in the process . Whether succession planning, wills disputes or deceased estates, mediation or conciliation can help parties to work together to understand each other's perspective, to craft agreements all can live with.
27. Multiparty and/or multiple locations?
- Depending on the nature of the dispute we utilise our most suitable mediators
- InterMEDIATE Dispute Management has vast experience with numerous disputants and locations concurrently.
28. What if we cannot agree in mediation?
There are other processes such as conciliation and arbitration. There is also court for those who really need it. Court however should be avoided if possible as it is an adversarial process which will usually escalate the dispute, create acrimony, and cost dearly in time, stress and expense.
29. Remote locations?
- InterMEDIATE Dispute Management can send mediators to most locations, even to remote areas.
- InterMEDIATE Dispute Management also provides and effective telephone conferencing (ODR) model of mediation.
30. Large corporations and Government?
- InterMEDIATE Dispute Management has successfully mediated for many of Australia’s largest companies, and government departments including construction sites, hospitals, the Australian Taxation Office, Department of Commerce and Department of Defence.
31. How much does mediation cost?
- The rate for Workplace Mediation differs from Family Law Mediation. There is an hourly rate, a half day and full day rates. Please ask us for more details.
32. Who pays for the mediation?
- Payment for mediation is a strong indicator of commitment to the process. It is vital that both (or all) parties are willing to work co-operatively in session.
- Parties pay equal amonts of fees.
- If one party is unable to pay, parties sometimes agree that the other will pay the full amount and the other will agree to repay their share at settlement. This can be written into the mediated agreement.
33. What if we don't reach an agreement, do I still have to pay?
- Yes. You are paying for the mediator’s time.
34. Why do we have to pay for mediation in advance?
- Parties paying in advance helps ensure success through investment and commitment to the process of mediation.