Divorce can be hard on anyone. While you and your partner might know or at least see the underlying reasons for why you have come to this point in life, it is not always easy to convey such multi-layered reasons and answer all the questions your children might have. Bayside Mediation prides itself on being one of the few Child Inclusive Mediation practices in Victoria, we also know that having tools at home will help your children. For that, we have a list of books for children of all ages to help them.

BOOKS FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN:

WAS IT THE CHOCOLATE PUDDING? (AGE 2-6)
BY SANDRA LEVINS AND BRYAN LANGDO

This story deals with the confusion that children can feel as the result of a divorce. Two brothers make a mess with some chocolate pudding and believe it to be the reason their parents have separated. The mother explains this is not the case.  She also covers age-appropriate explanations of other potentially bewildering issues such as joint custody and single parent homes.

MY SUPER SINGLE MUM (AGE 2-7)
BY BRONWEN FALLENS

A feel-good book at it’s very finest. This simple story is about a little girl, her single mother and all the incredible fun they have together. It gives a sense of a special relationship between the characters and a wonderful life – which can be even better than that of a two-parent family. With an emphasis on families not always being conventional, but still being happy and fun-loving.

MUM AND DAD GLUE (AGE 3-5)
BY KES GRAY AND LEE WILDISH

The creation of an award-winning author, the simplicity of this story is guaranteed to engage and comfort young children. A trustingly beautiful tale of a little boy who tries to find some glue to stick his mum and dad back together and to stick their smiles back on. The rhyming text imparts a powerful message reminding children that the parental love is still as strong as ever.

TWO HOMES (AGE 3-5)
BY CLAIRE MASUREL

With comforting optimism, this book focuses on a little boy called Alex and his difficulties getting accustomed to living between two homes. It explains how although his circumstances have changed, one thing always remains the same, which is that he is still loved. The matter-of-fact style of writing makes light of what can be a big issue. It concentrates on what is gained when parents separate, rather than what is lost.

WHEN MY PARENTS FORGOT HOW TO BE FRIENDS (AGE 4-7 YEARS)
BY JENNIFER MOORE-MALLINOS AND MARTA FABREGA

The bright pages of this book follows a young girl coming to terms with her parent’s separation. It teaches that although many things have changed in her life, her parents will always be there and still love her. This is accompanied by a parallel message of reassurance that the separation is not her fault and an understanding that by living in separate houses her parents may get along better.

TWO BIRTHDAY CAKES (AGE 4-8)
BY DANIELLE JAKU-GREENFIELD

Using a gentle, tell-it-like-it-is tone this book is targeted at children coming to terms with shared parenting. The story follows two siblings and examines a range of family situations in a realistic and straightforward way. It considers the practicalities of two houses and the not-always-good emotions associated with it. Eye-catching illustrations even allow children to colour in the pages.

 

BOOKS FOR OLDER CHILDREN:

IT’S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD (AGE 8-13)
BY JUDY BLUME

This emotional story follows Karen, an 11 year old girl, as she navigates her parent’s separation. It depicts her journey from desperation for them to stay together, to an awareness that this won’t happen and eventually an acceptance of reality. It covers the frustrations and sadness of the situation, the value of good friends and how, in time, it’s possible to readjust and feel happy again.

THE CASE OF THE SCARY DIVORCE (AGE 9-12)
BY CARL PICKHARDT

An unusual yet refreshing way of dealing with divorce issues, this book is about a ten year old boy with a helping investigator called Professor Skye. Between them they have to solve eight cases which deal with topics encountered during his parent’s break-up and divorce. Covering topics in this style is particularly helpful for boys who may not otherwise consider their feelings as closely.

HORSE DREAMS (AGE 9-14)
BY MARY VIVIAN JOHNSON

A touching story about a young girl’s struggle to deal with her parent’s separation, divorce and second marriage. It covers worry and challenges that can effect preteens/teens in a similar position, as well as other school related issues. An emotional read with an over-riding vibe of hope and forgiveness. Great discussion questions throughout the book encourage the reader to consider their own circumstances.

CANDYFLOSS (AGE 9 TO 14)
BY JACQUELINE WILSON

An endearing story of 12 year old Floss, who has to cope not only with her parent’s divorce but with her mother and her new family moving to the other side of the world. This book presents the difficult choices that may have to be made and the emotions that accompany them. A riveting yet tender storyline demonstrates how even the hardest decisions can be made and overcome with parental love and support of good friends.

THE SUITCASE KID (AGES 9-14)
JACQUELINE WILSON

A heart-warming, realistic read about a young girl who lives week on/week off between her two stepfamilies, feeling she doesn’t really fit into either. It follows an unusual yet compelling structure as the chapters work through the letters of the alphabet. Dealing with upsetting issues which some children will find comfort relating to, it retains a perfect balance of sadness and comedy with a feel-good happy ever after.

GOGGLE EYES (AGES 12-16)
BY ANNE FINE

This book cleverly combines comedy and charm in the story of schoolgirl, Kitty, who is dealing with the post-divorce trauma of her mother’s new boyfriend. She shares her feelings with her friend who is also from a broken family, but who has different circumstances and opinions. Her journey to learn how to accept change, however difficult, is sensitive yet amusing, making it a un-put-downable preteen read.

Myth #1: “We were married so we should split everything 50/50”?

This is probably the most common family law myth we hear. There is no rule or requirement that any
separation, any married or de-facto, has to result in a 50/50 division. In determining any split, the
Family Court will consider:

  • the financial contributions each party made to the acquisition of property;
  • the contributions each party made as parent and homemaker;
  • any non-financial contributions made by either party; and
  • the future needs of both parties.

Myth #2: “They cheated on me so I should be entitled to more”

Australia is a “no-fault divorce” jurisdiction. This means that moral issues such as infidelity will not
impact the overall property settlement or determine who children of the relationship are to live with.

Myth #3: “They need me to agree to get a divorce”.

Both parties do not need to consent to get a divorce. You can object to a divorce application by filing
a Response to Divorce Application however the objection will only be upheld if:

  • you and your spouse have not been separated for a period of 12 months;
  • there was not a valid marriage; or
  • the court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the application.

If the procedural and legislative requirements have been met, it is virtually impossible to object to a
divorce application. Whilst you and your spouse can file a joint application for divorce one party can
file the application solely as well.

Myth #4: “We haven’t divorced so I don’t have to sort out finances yet”.

Property settlement orders can be made at any time after separation. It is important to remember
that there is a 12 month time limit for you to commence proceedings in the Family Court which
starts from the day your divorce order comes into effect.

We usually recommend that your property settlement matters are finalised either before or at the
same time as your divorce to ensure that you remain within this time limit.

Myth #5: “Kids should live equally with each parent”.

The paramount consideration in all parenting matters is to determine what is in the best interests of
the child. Whilst the court may consider whether an equal shared arrangement is in the best
interests of the child or children, this may not always necessarily be the case.

These myths often arise from relying on the internet, friends or family members for information
relating to your family law matters. It is always best to be informed and get your facts from an
experienced family lawyer.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist
advice should be sought about your specific circumstances. Contact Bayside Mediation for more information and a 30 minute free phone consultation!

1/  We have our own consulting rooms, purpose-built for mediation. This means we don’t charge extra to hire rooms that don’t always accommodate mediation needs.  We also have the additional convenience of a coffee shop downstairs.

2/  Between us, George Filipowicz and myself, we have over 30 years of experience working as Mediators; We have also undertaken extensive extra training in areas such as ‘Dealing with Difficult Personalities’ and ‘Child Focused’ practice principles to better assist our clients.

3/ Bayside Mediation offers ‘Child Inclusive Mediation’, we are one of only a handful of private practitioners that can offer this service.  Child Inclusive Mediation is considered to be the ‘Best Practice’ when working with parents whose children are old enough to have a voice in their parents’ separation.

4/ Bayside Mediation offers after hours appointments to assist busy working couples to resolve their disputes quickly.

5/ We guarantee to see a client within 7-14 days of their initial inquiry.

6/  We offer joint mediation sessions of up to 4 hours in duration. Many of our clients are time poor and want their disputed resolved quickly and efficiently. We find offering extended mediation sessions where appropriate, enables that outcome.

7/ We offer continuity of service; Our mediators work exclusively with clients from their personal intake interviews to the resolution of their issues through the joint mediation sessions.

8/ Bayside Mediation specialise in all Family Law Disputes, Financial, Property, Children, Access, Wills, and Estates. We also offer Lawyer Assisted Mediation to firms across Melbourne.

9/ We will assess and where appropriate, we will work with clients with IVO’s in place.

10/ We pride ourselves in offering clients a safe and impartial space in which to have the conversations they need to have. But if clients need separate rooms to feel safe, we can provide  shuttle mediation. We also accommodate interstate and overseas clients with mediation services via telephone, Skype or Facetime.

When you decide to move on from your relationship, you will find there are several options available to help you finalise your relationship, your child access arrangements, and your financial settlement.

Many people assume they must use a Solicitor to finalise their issues but this is not the case, Family Law Mediation was developed over 30 years ago to give couples a clear choice when it comes to finalising their relationships.

If you decide that mediation is the best option for you and your family, you will find some Solicitors that offer their services as Mediators as well as Solicitors. So, what does this mean for you?

Firstly, you need to be aware that a Solicitor cannot act as both a Solicitor and Mediator in a separation. The Family Law Act clearly states that they cannot act as both, which means if your Solicitor mediates with you and your former partner and it is not successful, you will then have to find a new Solicitor to take the matter further.

Often, having a Solicitor acting as your mediator confuses the impartiality of the process. Your former partner is less likely to trust your Solicitor will be impartial when dealing with your family’s issues.

It is important to also know, that the only Mediators who are legally registered to work with Family Law Issues are those with the qualification ‘Family Dispute Resolutions Practitioner’, make sure your Solicitor not only has this qualification but that their registration is up to date. If you want them to mediate for you.

And finally there is the cost; a Solicitor is very likely to charge out their services, whether mediating or giving legal advice, at their usual hourly rate. And mediation is billed to both clients, for example, if your Solicitor charges $500.00 per hour, both you and your former partner may be charged $500.00 per hour each, for the time you are mediating.

Mediation was designed to be a cost effective, timely and a non-adversarial alternative to using Solicitors when couples separate. By using a Solicitor as your Mediator, it could be very costly, it could result in a drawn-out process and you may find it escalates any ill-will that exists between you and your former partner.  Choosing a Mediator whose previous qualification provides skills for dealing with people in emotional and difficult situations seems to be a sensible option.

Why would a solicitor recommend a client use a not-for-profit Family Law Mediation service instead of a private mediation service?

It is a question that causes me to wonder at the motives of some members in our legal profession.

  • Your solicitor knows it will take several weeks for both parties to progress through the not-for-profits intake process, often entrenching the dispute and adding to the animosity of both parties. Whereas private mediation can take as little as one or two weeks for clients to proceed through the same intake process.
  • Your solicitor knows that private mediation services have significantly higher agreement rates than the not-for-profit providers. Private providers don’t shy away from working with difficult cases.
  • Your solicitor knows that a private mediation services will work much harder to get both parties to the negotiating table. Private providers will work harder to get a result.
  • Your solicitor knows that many private mediation services offer longer mediation sessions which brings a matter to conclusion much more quickly, and ultimately at less expense to the parties involved; with both Children’s and Financial disputes.
  • And then there is the question of cost. The bond a client is asked to pay a solicitor to commence proceedings, will often be far more than is needed to fund an entire mediation process through a private provider; Child Access and Finances!
    So, who stands to benefit from you using a not-for-profit provider to mediate your family law matter when you can afford a private family law mediation service?  Your solicitor.

You are significantly more likely to end up in solicitor lead negotiations and ultimately in court, if you start your mediation experience using a not-for-profit mediation service, and that is money in the pocket of your solicitor!

Private Family Law Mediation or Family Dispute Resolution facilitated by a qualified and experienced FDRP, is the quickest and most cost-effective way to resolve your family law disputes.

If you are thinking of separating and wondering which path to take, here are a few things you might want to take into consideration.

When you separate, if you can work things out yourselves you may not need a solicitor at all. Financial settlements should be formalised with the court or have solicitors draft binding agreements, but if there is very little in the

pool and you both agree, you may be able to lodge your own documents with the court.

If you can’t work things out yourselves then there is a Family Law requirement to try mediation, and a qualified Family Dispute Resolutions Practitioner is who you need, like those at Bayside Mediation. They are trained in all aspects of family law and can support you both to make the best possible decisions for your children and your finances.

What makes Mediation so effective is that your mediator is required by law to be impartial. This means they won’t ‘act’ for either party, they’re neutral and there to help you have a constructive conversation about the issues you can’t agree on. Solicitors ‘act’ for their client and are obliged to work for the best outcome possible for their client at the detriment of anyone else involved.

Mediators are also required to advocate for the best interests of your children, solicitors are not. That being said, there are some very good solicitors working in family law and they are concerned for children’s well-being, but in the end the child is not their client. If you end up in court your children may be appointed an Independent Children’s Lawyer.

As part of the process mediators hear both sides of the story and are often the only family law professionals that do. This enables them to hear not only where there are problems, but also where there is common ground to build on.

Mediation is much quicker than litigation. A mediator can get an agreement within weeks, where using solicitors will take months if not years to reach agreement.

Mediation is private and confidential. Going to court is not.

Good family law mediators offer “Child Inclusive Mediation”. Child Inclusive is considered to be the ‘best practice’ when dealing with children and their parents separation.

And then there is the cost. Family law mediators charge much less than solicitors.

Finally, you can always go down the litigation path if all else fails.

Ask yourself, do you want to fracture what is left of your relationship with your former partner? Then use a solicitor. If you want to focus on what’s best for your children and forge a new structured relationship as separated parents, then use mediation.

You’re in a relationship where there is a history of Family Violence and you are not sure if you should Mediator or not.

Couples with IVO’s in place, typically involve a parent who wants to mediate and a parent who doesn’t want to mediate.

Often the party who does not want to mediate may feel unsafe or feels they won’t get a fair hearing with their former partner in any form of negotiation.

The other party is often restricted from seeing their children and is wanting to resolve the dispute as quickly as possible to allow access to their children again.

Both parties often feel powerless in the situation and Mediation offers the safe, impartial, confidential space to discuss and resolve issues.

Here are 13 things you should consider:

  1. Most IVO’s have an exception for Counselling and Mediation, so mediation is often possible.
  2. Mediation is a requirement of the Family Law Act, couples are required to attempt Mediation before they can take a dispute to court.
  3. You can request a Shuttle Mediation if you feel unsafe and good Mediation services will proved that for you.
  4. Mediators offer a safe, impartial space for couples to discuss their differences and good Mediators manage their space well.
  5. If Mediation fails or is refused by one parent, the Mediator will issue a 60(I) certificate if requested by the other party, even with an IVO in place.
  6. If your circumstance warrant, for example, if there is extreme violence, drug and or alcohol abuse, your Solicitor can make application to the court on your behalf for an exception from obtaining the certificate.
  7. Using a Solicitor to advocate for you when you have been requested to attend mediation does not resolve anything. Solicitors do not have authority over Mediation, they do not tell Mediators what to do.
  8. If you refuse to attend Mediation, it is entirely up to the Mediator if they issue the 60(I) certificate or not.
  9. Saying you want to use a different mediation service will not necessarily satisfy the Mediator that you are genuine and they will often issue
  10. If you have concerns or are apprehensive, it is always better to at speak with the Mediator to see if they can adequately support you in a Mediation and to discuss your options.
  11. Mediation is by far the best and cheapest option for separating parents and should be your first choice.
  12. Mediators are neutral, not matter which parent makes the initial contact there is no advantage.
  13. If a certificate is issued, it may take several months for your matter to go before a Judge, you could seek Mediation elsewhere in the interim.

What is a 60(I) Certificate?

This is the certificate a Mediator will issue allowing one or both parties to make an application to take their dispute to court.

Saying no or refusing to speak to the Mediator, are there any possible consequences?

  1. By refusing to attend Mediation you will often leave the Mediator with no other choice than to issue the certificate.
  2. If you respond to the letter you receive from a Mediator via your solicitor, again you put the Mediator in a difficult position. Mediators have strict confidentiality requirements and speaking through a third party requires written permission from the person being asked to attend Mediation.
  3. Refusing to speak to the Mediator creates doubt in the mind of the Mediator that you are genuine (very often people use these types of tactics to delay the process).
  4. If you can afford a Solicitor, you can afford Mediation.
  5. Using a solicitor to communicate with the Mediator may result in the Mediator making assumptions about the reasons why you are delaying and if asked they may issue the certificate.
  6. What is often not realised by parents is that Courts will order parents back to Mediation if they feel it is warranted, so refusing to attend can be futile as you will end up in Mediation anyway. However, this time in court with a strict time limit and the added expense of Barristers and Solicitors
  7. Another option open to Judges is to order cost against the person who is refusing to attend Mediation.
    Your best option is always to speak with the Mediator when they contact you, they are there to help and they are impartial, so you have nothing to fear and a whole lot to gain.

Is Mediation Free ?

  • There are two types of Family Law Mediation Services:
  • Not-For-Profit Organisations and Private Practitioners,
  • The Not-For-Profit services charge a sliding scale depending on the client’s income and these fees can range from $10.00 to approximately $300.00 per hour, Private Mediators generally charge a fixed hourly fee per client which will vary depending on the skill level and experience of the Mediator
  • Generally, only private practitioners will mediate financial settlements
  • Mediation is charged out to both clients, i.e. An amount per hour per client even when you are both present at the same mediation.
  • Mediators generally charge considerable less than Solicitors and it is generally accepted that mediation will cost clients many thousands of dollars less than engaging a Solicitor or going to Court.
  • Private Mediation will generally conclude a matter within weeks whereas engaging a Not-For-Profit Organisation or Solicitors can mean a matter will take months and in some cases years to conclude.
  • If your mediator is also a Solicitor they will generally charge their normal hourly rate.