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Mediation and Your Family Law Dispute

Mediation and Your Family Law Dispute – Agreements that Suit Your Needs

WHAT IS MEDIATION?

Mediation is an alternative way to determine a family law dispute outside of the courts. The Mediator Standards Board defines mediation as: “a process in which the participants, with the support of the mediator, identify issues, develop options, consider alternatives and make decisions about future actions and outcomes.”

It is a process of problem-solving that is guided by an impartial third party called a mediator.

WHAT DOES A MEDIATOR DO?

In family law, the role of the mediator is to facilitate the process of dispute and conflict resolution while the content of the discussions rests with the parties. The mediator can assist the parties to clarify the most pertinent issues and consider ways to resolve these issues. A mediator will not, and cannot, give advice about your dispute or determine the dispute for you.

HOW IS MEDIATION DIFFERENT FROM COUNSELLING, CONCILIATION OR ARBITRATION

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5 Essential Skills of a Family Mediator

1. Active Listening

A good mediator will listen by fully concentrating, understanding and responding to what is being said by the parties.  Active listening may also involve the mediator clarifying the meaning of a message by asking further questions.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and manage your own emotions as well as responding to the emotions of others appropriately. Mediators are usually very skilled at relating to their clients.  They are good at understanding the needs and feelings of others to ensure their clients feel they are being heard. Moreover, mediators have excellent communication and conflict management skills to resolve disputes effectively.

3. Problem Solving

Every family is different in their construction, needs, and values. Consequently, a one size fits all approach will often fail to provide effective solutions to all families. Accordingly, a family mediator is usually an effective problem solver and able to adapt to the needs of a variety of families.

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Family Law Lawyers and Mediation

For most of those dealing with their family law matter through the Court system, it becomes apparent very quickly that you might be in this for the long haul and it won’t be cheap. With a currently under resourced Family Court, the excessive delays no doubt add to the stress of separating couples who want nothing more than to be able to move on with their lives. So, what else can you do to try and take back control of your future? Well there are many alternatives but a cheaper and often underestimated option is Mediation. Family law lawyers are able to assess your particular situation and advise whether mediation is suitable in your circumstances.

What is Mediation?

It is a voluntary process facilitated by a neutral third party (the Mediator) where you and the other party can have confidential discussions in trying to resolve your matter. The Family Law Mediator will navigate the process and assist you in sorting through your issues in dispute, generating options for resolution and how you might go about finalising any agreement that is reached. Family law lawyers may also attend with you if you so wish, allowing you to get tailored advice as different options surface through the discussions. If you are not comfortable with being in the same room as the other party, participating in shuttle mediation where the mediator goes between rooms can also provide you with the same benefits. So why should you try it?

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Trees Disputes Between Neighbours in NSW

In urban and suburban areas trees can often be the subject of a problem between neighbours. Common reasons include:

  • Roots damaging sewer pipes
  • Parts of a tree damaging the roof or building
  • Overhanging branches
  • Trees interfering with views or sunlight
  • Leaves etc overflowing or blocking gutters
  • Damage to driveways and fences from tree roots and branches

The Trees (Disputes Between Neighbours) Act 2006 (Trees Act) provides for certain tree disputes to be adjudicated by the courts, providing clear remedies and pathways for resolution of disputes.  Prior to the enactment of the Trees Act, it would be common for neighbours to have to seek permission of the owner of the tree, and council, to prune the tree or remove the offending branch or root and/or bring an action in nuisance against the neighbour.  The process has been significantly simplified under the Trees Act.

Mediation

Mediation is a good starting point for neighbours involved in a tree dispute. Mediation can help to resolve disputes in a cheaper manner than litigation.  Further, if a dispute reaches the Land and Environment Court, the Court will not make an order unless the applicant has made a reasonable effort to reach agreement with the neighbour prior to going to court.
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