Mediation is a way of resolving disputes without going to court. Mediation is a voluntary process and works best when both sides are on an equal footing - it is generally not suitable where there has been family violence or where both people do not feel totally safe.
The role of a mediator is to help the parties discuss issues, consider options and work out agreements that suit them both. Mediators do not give advice so it is important to get legal advice before going to mediation.
A mediated agreement may be registered with the court to make it legally binding. This is done using the Family Court Consent order kit. It is advisable to have a lawyer prepare the form or, at the very least, to obtain independent legal advice about the proposed terms of the agreement.
Counsellors give advice and assistance to couples who are considering separation or who are finding it difficult to cope with separation. Counsellors can also help to resolve differences over the rearing of and contact with children. Counselling may help resolve a problem without going to court.
Counselling and mediation services are offered by organisations such as Relationships Australia and Centacare.
Before commencing court action, parties to a dispute must attempt family dispute resolution (which may take the form of mediation or counselling), unless they come under an exempt category.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.