Do I Need to Be Face-to-Face with My Ex During Mediation?

In this video, Accredited Family Law Specialist and Page Provan Managing Director Bruce Provan answers the question, "Do I need to be face-to-face with my ex during mediation?

Family Law Section Law Council of Australia Award
Member of Queensland law society
Family law Practitioners Association
International Academy of Family Lawyers - IAFL
Mediator Standards Board

Do I Need to Be Face-to-Face with My Ex During Mediation?

 

In this video, Accredited Family Law Specialist and Page Provan Managing Director Bruce Provan answers the question, “Do I need to be face-to-face with my ex during mediation?

Transcript

My name is Bruce Provan. I’m the Managing Director of Page Provan Family and Fertility Lawyers. We are a firm of lawyers practising in Central Brisbane. We practise exclusively in family and fertility law.

I’m going to talk to you about “Do I need to be face to face with my ex partner during a mediation?”

And the short answer is, no, you don’t.

These days, it’s quite common for mediations to take place by video, such as by Zoom or by Teams. And the other thing that is quite common is for parties to be at the same office, but be in the separate rooms throughout the course of the mediation. This is something you should discuss with your lawyer and the mediator beforehand. 

Now, obviously, sometimes it’s preferable not to be in the same room as your former partner during the mediation, especially if there’s been any sort of domestic violence or any threat of domestic violence. And that can include harassment, intimidation, threats, or coercive control. 

So, for example, if you don’t feel as though you can negotiate on equal terms with your former partner, it would be desirable to have separate rooms. Now, at the start of any mediation, a mediator needs to make a decision whether this is a matter that should proceed to a mediation or not. So, for example, in parenting matters, a family dispute resolution practitioner is obliged to consider, after speaking to both parties and having intake interviews, whether this is a matter of suitable for mediation and whether the parties can negotiate on equal terms or whether there’s an equal bargaining power. 

Now, the other option is to start the mediation in the same room, but then move into separate rooms.

And this is quite common. Some mediators like to have the parties in the same room with all of their lawyers at the start of mediation so that they can go through, “Look, what’s the process of mediation? What’s the advantage of trying to reach an agreement at mediation and not let the matter go to court or what might be the stumbling blocks?” And some mediators say that they like to have both parties in the same room so that both of them can hear the same thing and then allow the parties to move into separate rooms. Other times, a mediation can start with both parties being in separate rooms. But if there’s progress during the course of the mediation and there are agreements about some issues, it’s desirable to bring them into the same room towards the end of the mediation so that matters can be finalised and any outstanding issues can be resolved with the parties being together in the same room.

The other matter that I always tell my clients and mediators need to make clear to people is that there’s no compulsion to reach an agreement at mediation. Obviously, there’s a lot of time and often a lot of money invested in the mediation process, but people shouldn’t feel as though they are obliged to reach an agreement at mediation, because so often what happens is if people don’t reach an agreement at mediation, negotiations continue, and they end up reaching an agreement without the matter proceeding through the court process. 

My name is Bruce Provan. I’m the Managing Director of Page Provan Family and Fertility Lawyers.

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