Mediation gives parties more control of the potential outcomes and agreements rather than deliberation by a Judge. It can be an opportunity to resolve issues and reduce costs, stress and time associated with court proceedings. Invest in making it work for your situation.
Rested and calm: Given you have prepared for Mediation as recommended (Part 1 of series) you will be feeling organised. It is important to have enough rest prior to the mediation so your mind is clear and focussed. You might be feeling anxious prior to the mediation, which is normal. Think about the strategies you are going to use during Mediation to maintain calm and focus, deep breaths, timeout, a break. These strategies are just as relevant for: face to face, shuttle or telephone mediation.
Arrive: With plenty of time before the mediation – anticipate, traffic location and carpark issues. It is important to allow time to have a final conversation with your Lawyer prior to commencement of mediation.
Communication: Mediation is your opportunity to put forward proposals, options and ideas to assist in achieving possible agreements. It requires you to have good communication and listen carefully to the other party, hear their perspective. It is important to focus on the problem not the person. Be flexible, don’t let new information or new alternatives throw you. Focus on opportunities and not roadblocks. Remember that Mediation is less intimidating and stressful than appearing in court.
Support Person Role: It is possible to have a support person present at mediation if all parties consent. The support person’s role is to remain nonverbal and not contribute. Often a better use of a support person is to have them close by in the building or by phone who you can check in with when needed. Your support person should be invested in good outcomes not inflaming the situation. You should always discuss the need for a support person with your lawyer prior to mediation.
Role of Lawyer: Your Lawyer will support you through the process and guide you with legal advice of the proposals sought or offered. You know your child the best and what solutions will work for them, therefore the options are best proposed by the parent/carer.
Child Focus: It is important to keep your child or children at the centre of your negotiating and options in mediation. Will the proposals work for the children? Are they realistic for the children? Do they consider the developmental needs of the child?
Confidential: Mediation is private. The discussions and information within the mediation is confidential (refer to mediation information provided). This should reassure you to contribute honestly and realistically.
Be open and think positively about the process: The Mediation itself is flexible and can be tailored to circumstances. Mediators may assist negotiations by asking questions, encouraging open discussions, offering different perspectives and expressing views in alternative ways. Parties may be encouraged to identify and test the consequences of potential solutions.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination”.Jimmy Dean
Chanel Hughes – Child and Family Case Consultant, NLS Law