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Shuttle Mediation Explained

shuttle mediation | Justice Family Lawyers

Divorce is not about battling out indifferences and marital issues in court. It is about finding solutions that work for both parties.

Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms like mediation are becoming increasingly popular in settling family law disputes. They offer less confronting, cost-effective and time-effective solutions. Shuttle mediation is a specific form of mediation that is useful when emotions are running high or communication is challenging.

Shuttle mediation does not require you and your ex-partner to be in the same room. Instead, it involves a mediator who ‘shuttles’ between you and your ex-partner in separate spaces. This neutral mediator moves back and forth to share information, explore options, and help you find common ground in your dispute. This can be done in person, over the phone, or even online.

The mediator’s role is crucial. They create a safe, confidential environment for each of you to express your concerns and interests without the pressure of direct confrontation. They also help clarify misunderstandings, manage conflict, and guide you towards workable solutions.

Shuttle mediation allows the finding of practical and fair agreements that consider the needs of everyone involved, particularly any children. It is a collaborative and less adversarial approach that can lead to faster, more cost-effective, and mutually-beneficial solutions.

Also read: Mediation Before Court in Australia: What You Need to Know

What are the benefits of choosing shuttle mediation over other options?

Shuttle mediation comes with a range of benefits that make it an appealing choice for many couples navigating separation or divorce:

  1. Reduced Conflict: The physical separation of you and your ex-partner minimises the potential for confrontation and escalating tensions. This creates a calmer, more productive environment that allows for respectful communication when discussing sensitive issues.
  2. Increased Safety and Comfort: For those who’ve experienced family violence or feel intimidated by their ex-partner, shuttle mediation offers a safe space to voice concerns and interests without fear.
  3. Confidentiality: Everything discussed in shuttle mediation remains confidential, encouraging an open and honest dialogue.
  4. Flexibility: Shuttle mediation can be completely tailored to your specific needs and preferences, with sessions conducted in person, online, or a combination of both.
  5. Faster Resolutions: With a focus on collaboration and problem-solving, shuttle mediation often leads to quicker resolutions than traditional court battles.
  6. Better Outcomes: Mutually beneficial agreements reached through mediation are more likely to be sustainable and satisfactory for both parties in the long run.
  7. Child-Focused: Shuttle mediation prioritises the best interests of any children involved, ensuring their needs are considered throughout the process.
  8. Reduced Stress: The less adversarial nature of shuttle mediation can significantly reduce the emotional toll of separation or divorce, making it a less stressful experience overall.

Also read: Advantages and Disadvantages of Mediation in Family Law Matters 

How much does shuttle mediation cost, and who pays for it?

Shuttle mediation fees are generally charged on an hourly basis. You can expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $500 per hour for a qualified mediator. Some mediators may also offer fixed-fee packages for a set number of sessions.

Payment is usually shared equally between you and your ex-partner. However, you can agree on a different arrangement if it suits your circumstances. If you’re eligible for Legal Aid, they may cover some or all of the costs.

Tip: Always get a clear estimate of the total cost upfront, so there are no surprises down the track. Don’t hesitate to ask your chosen mediator for a detailed quote before you start the process.

Also read: How Much Does Mediation Cost in Australia? 

Can the agreements reached in shuttle mediation be legally binding?

While the agreements you reach in shuttle mediation aren’t automatically legally binding, they can be formalised in three ways;

  1. Parenting Plans: If your agreement involves arrangements for your children, it can be formalised as a Parenting Plan. This is a written document that outlines the details of your agreement, such as where the children live, who they spend time with, and how major decisions about them are made. While Parenting Plans are not legally enforceable, they demonstrate your commitment to co-parenting and can be used as evidence in court if any disputes arise later.
  2. Consent Orders: If you want your agreement to be legally binding, you can apply to the Family Court for Consent Orders. These are court orders that reflect the terms of your agreement. Once a court makes Consent Orders, they have the same legal force as any other court order and can be enforced if either of you does not comply.

To get Consent Orders, you will need to have your agreement drafted in the correct legal format. It is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure your agreement is comprehensive and meets all the necessary requirements.

  1. Binding Financial Agreements: For financial matters, you can enter into a Binding Financial Agreement (BFA). This is a legally binding contract that sets out how your assets and finances will be divided. BFAs must be prepared by lawyers and signed by both parties, with each receiving independent legal advice.

Whether you choose to formalise your agreement through a Parenting Plan, Consent Orders, or a BFA will depend on your specific circumstances and preferences. It is always best to consult with a lawyer to understand your options and ensure your agreement is legally sound and protects your interests.

Also read: If I Refuse Mediation Will It Go Against Me in Court?

Ready for a less stressful path to family law matters? Consider shuttle mediation

If you are facing separation or divorce, shuttle mediation could be the answer you’re looking for. It is a less confrontational, more collaborative way to resolve family law disputes and find solutions that work for everyone.

At Justice Family Lawyers, our team handles family law mediation and are dedicated to helping families navigate this challenging time with compassion and expertise.

Contact us today for a confidential consultation to discuss how shuttle mediation could benefit you and your family. Let us guide you towards a brighter future together.

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