Mediation, also known as Family Dispute Resolution or Alternative Dispute Resolution, helps resolve issues, and create and formalise agreements, when there are disputes relating to parenting, property, separation and divorce. A suitably qualified mediator, helps each party identify needs and facilitates a discussion to create an acceptable resolution for all parties. It can also be very cost effective.

What does a Mediator do?

  • A mediator clarifies issues and helps identify each party’s needs
  • A mediator helps create a fair and lasting settlement
  • Mediators do not take sides or make decisions for the parties
  • Mediators cannot give legal advice

What are the benefits of mediation?

  • It is voluntary – parties may leave at any time
  • It allows parties to work out their own solution
  • If children are involved, it keeps the focus on their best interests
  • It may reduce future conflict by improving communications
  • It may be less costly and is less formal than court
  • It is a private process, unlike court

Do I still need a lawyer?

Mediators do not replace lawyers. It is highly advisable that both parties have their own lawyers for independent advice before, during and after the mediation. Once you sign-off on the resolutions and the legally enforcable documentation your agreement becomes legally binding.

Mediation is mandatory before Court

Generally, you cannot start court proceedings in relation to parenting issues without having attended Family Dispute Resolution. We recommend you approach the process with sincerity, and good legal backing. In financial disputes, the Court actively encourages parties to attend mediation and avoid protracted litigation. In most cases, litigating will be adjourned to allow parties to mediate.

Mediation for shared parenting

Where parental access and responsibilities are concerned, we believe the focus should be on the best interests of the child. As children grow and develop, their needs change, so parents should be prepared to alter the parenting agreement to better suit the child. Regular mediation may be required.

Each new agreement ought to consider:

  • The child’s age and stage of development
  • Their needs and interests
  • Their emotional resilience
  • When and how to introduce change e.g. introducing a significant other

Ultimately you should aim for a fluid and independent agreement process with the child’s needs at the centre.

What if mediation doesn’t work?

Mediation will not work if either party is unwilling to try to work out a solution. If there is too much conflict, you may need to consider other methods to come to a resolution. Even if a final agreement is not reached, mediation may assist in narrowing issues in dispute, leaving fewer matters that can be resolved by further negotiations or by the court

What is arbitration?

Another way to resolve disputes is through arbitration, where the parties agree to jointly appoint an arbitrator to consider each party’s argument and come to a considered decision. The parties agree in advance to be bound by the arbitrator’s decision. Arbitration is often more time efficient and less costly than having the matter decided by a court. Arbitrators, unlike mediators, can make binding decisions.

What sets O’Sullivan Davies apart?

O’Sullivan Davies was established in the year 2000 to create a culture that fully supports clients with the very best Family Law guidance and resolution processes, as well as robust legal representation. We help our clients resolve matters meaningfully and as quickly as circumstances allow. Mediation, Arbitration and Family Dispute Resolution are typically considered before recommending going to court.

To that end, our two founders and a Senior Partner are qualified Mediators and Arbitrators.

Trevor O’Sullivan is a nationally accredited and very experienced Mediator and Arbitrator.

Andrew Davies is a nationally accredited Arbitrator, Family and Child Mediator and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner.

Nicola Watts is nationally accredited and very experienced in conducting Mediation conferences. She is also an Arbitrator.

O’Sullivan Davies is one of Australia’s leading practices in the areas of Family Law. The firm’s partners and lawyers are highly experienced and well regarded in the field. A client- focused approach ensures we are accessible, progressive and deliver responsive and meaningful solutions. If you’d like to know more about any of the issues in this leaflet, please get in touch.

Contact us

O’Sullivan Davies’ expertise and abilities have been consistently ranked as a First Tier Family Law firm in Western Australia in from 2012 to 2021. (No rankings conducted in 2013)

Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This brochure was prepared by O’Sullivan Davies and updated on 17 March 2021. It presents general information only and is not intended as a comprehensive guide. It is not legal advice. Professional advice should be sought before applying the information to any specific circumstances.