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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

07 AUG 2012

Mediation: blown up too far?

Lisa Parkinson

Family mediator, trainer and a Vice President of the FMA

Lisa Parkinson
Mediator and Trainer:
Is mediation being blown up in a big bubble of expectation that the government is inflating in order to distract attention from the withdrawal of legal aid?  The Pre-Application Protocol is not working well. Some courts disregard it and mediation services have difficulty reaching respondents, many of whom do not know what mediation is or misunderstand its purpose. However, when both clients attend a MIAM, separately and/or together, as many as 74% accept mediation, following careful screening with each of them for domestic abuse and/or child protection issues. Positive outcomes depend on an interplay of factors, including the level and duration of conflict, the capacities and motivation of the clients and the experience and skills of the mediator. Some objections to the Pre-Application Protocol seem to be based on hearsay and hunch, rather than on actual knowledge. MIAMs can be arranged quickly and provided there are fully competent mediators, mediation is not a bubble that will burst and evaporate. Couples and family members can use mediation, with legal advice, to reach settlements in separation/divorce and other family matters. Attendance at a MIAM should be a pre-requisite for court application, not just an expectation.
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