The Government and the Courts recognise that the Court process is and should be a procedure of last resort when determining issues concerning your children. Since April 2014, except in certain defined circumstances, anyone seeking to issue private family law proceedings in relation to children must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting to learn more about mediation and other forms of dispute resolution.
If one party is unwilling to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting or the mediator assesses the mediation as unsuitable then a Court application can be made. A Court however will have a duty at the first appointment to actively consider Mediation. If the respondent has been unwilling to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting the Court can can direct them to do so.
Through family mediation you decide what the best arrangements are for your children. After all know your children better than anyone else and this process allows you to retain control over the important decisions which will affect your children, rather than handing over that decision-making power to the Courts.
The views of your children are of course very important and will be voiced in the mediation process through you as parents. If appropriate, direct child consultation can be arranged - see My Questions for further details regarding the range of children issues that can be discussed in family mediation.
Watch our video about how mediation helped a family deal with the breakdown of a relationship: Jacks Story