Written by Brett Hartley, 6 September 2022
A family law mediation in Queensland is certainly not a typical collaborative type mediation (in most cases where parties sit in a room together and collaborate on best outcomes for each other).
Rather, especially in financial matters, the mediation is more like an assisted negotiation with an experienced mediator engaged by the parties.
Typically, this is a specialist family law mediator or an experienced barrister specialising in family law, or nowadays even retired judges.
At HFL, we take mediation preparation and attendance at mediation very seriously because of the high settlement rate that can be achieved. Some of the processes we employ include the following:-
- We always prepare a very detailed Mediation Outline. This document not only sets out the history of the relationship by way of chronology, but also sets out a summary of the important contributions made by our client as well as summarises the corroborative evidence relied upon in relation to such contributions – we always ensure that disclosure of any documentation supporting our client’s contributions is provided to the other side well prior to the Mediation.
- We also prepare and set out a comprehensive schedule of assets and liabilities and we ensure that everything that is not agreed upon is valued and we also collate and make available further evidence in relation to any tax and valuations issues as is necessary.
- A Mediation Outline document is not simply a document of wants and likes. It is not enough to turn up at Mediation and simply say that you want the home because that is where the children should live. The main purpose of a Mediation Outline document is to set out the legal argument that supports our client’s case. Reliance upon the relevant Full Court and High Court Authorities are mandatory in our Mediation Outline. There are sometimes good moral grounds and practical grounds and reasons as to why an argument is advanced for a client. Those arguments are simply made a lot stronger if a legal foundation is also particularised.
- We reality test our clients well before their mediation. In other words, we often see our opponents walk in with clients who are not prepared. They take a long time to respond to offers and spend half the day realising that things are not what they thought they were and perhaps they are receiving advices for the first time.
- There is no substitute for detail and preparation. Our clients not only have an input into the Mediation Outline document, they are also provided with schedules outlining the best and worst case scenario. That allows our clients to make informed decisions throughout the day as to various offers and the ramifications of same, without being surprised on the day of Mediation.
- We are tough on our clients. It may sound unusual – but we are passionate and proactive about our clients settling, as long as it is on a reasonable basis. Sometimes, we are criticised for saying that we like to “win” or like to obtain the most successful outcomes for our clients. We do not think such an attitude is wrong at all. What we are really saying is that we want our clients to walk away from Mediation with advices from us that it was in the range of really good outcomes for them and something that was commercial and legally sound.
- One cannot always get what they want exactly, but that is not a “win”. A win or a good outcome for a client is where we can obtain the best possible outcome on the day and in our experience, those better outcomes are obtained for a client when one prepares with detail and uses their technical legal knowledge and nous to craft a good outcome.
If you require assistance attending or preparing your matter for mediation, please do not hesitate to contact Brett Hartley or one of our experienced family lawyers.