Useful tips to help you prepare for Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution


Need help to prepare for your Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution


We have compiled some tips from legal experts to help you prepare for Mediation (or a Family Dispute Resolution Conference) and get the best out of the process.

Our Top 9 Tips for Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution:

  1. Both parties need to be present.  If someone cannot physically attend the mediation then you may agree to use teleconferencing for one or all parties.  Usually being present is more effective and results in more success.

  2. Expect the unexpected.  Understand that new information, developments or scenarios may arise.  If this occurs try to see it as an opportunity to reduce or eliminate problems.

  3. Listen.  Keep listening.  Do more listening!  You will be amazed at what you will miss if you don’t listen and conversely, what you will pick up.  Even subtle things can be gleaned when you truly listen.  Listening is to mediation what location is to real estate. Keep your focus on the problem and the practical situation to be resolved, rather than on the other party.

  4. Watch your use of any tactics. Mediation is not well-served by aggressive tactics.  Think about how you would react to what you are planning to do. Is it potentially offensive? Is it necessary? Is it likely to work for you (especially bearing in mind how the other side or Mediator may react)?  Mediation will usually only work if you approach it in genuine good faith without any game playing.  The other side and the mediator will often be able to see through tactics and game playing. 

  5. Be prepared for your mediation. You might not get another chance.  Do you want to waste it or make the most of it?  Spend your time and energy thinking through and discussing your approach and then making notes to assist you. Consider options, alternatives and what if scenarios in advance.  Mediation is your chance to get an outcome you tailor to your own needs and preference.  A decision imposed by a Court is highly unlikely to be tailored to your needs.  Mediation is your chance to save yourself the time, money and emotional stress that will be involved in you go to Court. 

  6. Be imaginative.  Think laterally and outside of the box.  The solutions you can agree on at mediation are generally richer and more varied than that which a Court might impose.  Try to look at the issues through the eyes of the opposite party and think about what might also work for them.

  7. If the Mediator has asked for Mediation briefs or materials to be prepared, then make sure they are full, complete, persuasive and delivered in sufficient time in advance of the mediation so as to allow both the Mediator and the other party a reasonable opportunity to read and consider everything.  Know your own materials very well and be ready to clarify and explain them.

  8. Do not underestimate the ability of the other party.  If you do you may well be taken by surprise and it could be your downfall. 

  9. Think and rethink your strategic choices in negotiation.  Think about what you will do or say, what your "bottom line" really is and how you measure whether you have achieved a good result or not.  Remember that since you’ve already separated (and you never anticipated that when your relationship started) nobody is really winning.  In a sense you’ve already lost.  A good outcome is usually something that you can live with given the circumstances. 

You should also read our fact sheet The essentials you need to know to prepare for Mediation and Family Dispute Resolution.

If you are considering attending Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution with your former partner, the following fact sheets may also help you:



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Content By:
Michelle Beatty, Senior Lawyer
Virtual Legal

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