Family dispute resolution is a mediation process whereby parties to a family dispute arising from divorce or separation undertake to resolve their issues among themselves, before taking their matter to court. It has a lot of characteristics that you may need to know to understand the process better.
Here are some of its distinguishing qualities:
- It is voluntary.
The parties to a dispute are not obliged to compromise or agree to the terms proposed by the other party. A settlement agreement may be reached only if both parties are amenable to its terms. If the parties fail to agree, they may avail of other options for resolution, such as going before a court of law.
- It is confidential.
The conversations between the parties during the mediation are confidential so as to allow the parties the freedom to share all their concerns without fear of retaliation from third parties.
- It is privileged.
All matters discussed during the mediation are privileged communications and cannot be used by the other party as evidence in court proceedings. It follows that all statements made by a party are inadmissible in evidence against him in court.
- It is an assisted negotiation.
An impartial third party, called the family dispute resolution practitioner, facilitates the negotiation between the parties and aids them in exploring possible avenues for settlement.
- It is non-adversarial.
Unlike in litigation, a mediation does not involve the presentation of evidence and exchange of arguments. The parties work together to reach an agreement that is acceptable for both of them.
- It is a non-coercive process.
Unlike in court proceedings where the decision is made by the judge, in a mediation, it is the parties who will ultimately decide the outcome of the case. The family dispute resolution practitioner merely assists in the settlement of the case and will not make decisions for the parties.