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.

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