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How Mediator Facilitated Negotiation (MFN-FDR) Mediation Works

There are four major stages to MFN-FDR, these are;

The first stage is the client completing a DOORS Risk Screen. This is our ‘Duty of Care’ to ensure that the process will not cause any additional harm to either party.

After the DOORS has been completed and discussed (with each party individually and confidently with the mediator), we then undertake the ‘Mediation Coaching’ session(s) for either 1, 3 or 5 x 1-hour sessions. The 1, 3 or 5 sessions are based on the client’s needs.

Once the ‘Mediation Coaching’ has been completed, we undertake the ‘MFN-FDR Pre-Mediation’ session for each party individually and confidently with the mediator.

At the completion of the ‘MFN-FDR Pre-Mediation’ session, and if mediation is safe and suitable, we then book and undertake the ‘MFN-FDR Mediation’ session.

DOORS Risk Screen

The original Family Law DOORS screening tool (McIntosh, 2011) was created by Professor Jennifer McIntosh, Director of Family Transitions. The DOORS screening tool is a three-part framework that assists separating parents and helping professionals to detect and respond to both well-being and safety risks. Professor McIntosh piloted earlier versions of this screening tool with Relationships Australia SA.

In contrast to specific domestic violence screens, the DOORS takes a broad definition of risk, covering adult, infant and child well-being, conflict and communication, parenting stress, and collateral stressors, encouraging the practitioner to evaluate the contribution of all these factors to imminent personal and interpersonal safety risks.

What the DOORS offers:

Support for cross-disciplinary understanding of factors that combine to create a climate of elevated risk for families

  • A common screening framework that can be used across multiple services
  • A tool for systematically identifying multiple risks at the client’s point of entry into the service, including being at risk of physical or psychological harm, or of perpetrating harm. In the case of infants and children, the tool screens for developmental harm
  • Associated response planning resources
  • An annotated risk assessment resource list for specialist follow up
  • A Family DOORS App to streamline analysis

The DOORS tool can be completed via the Family DOORS App, on paper or a mixture of the two.

MFN-FDR Mediation Coaching

A one on one pre-mediation session with a Certified New Ways for Families Coach to help you to prepare for mediation.

Who is it for?

This is for anyone who wants to build their negotiation skills in preparation for mediation. Especially if:

  • you or the other person is likely to get stressed and emotional during the mediation
  • you find it difficult to make or consider proposals and worry that you will get pushed into a bad decision
  • you or the other person is prone to reactions including extreme behaviour and you want to know how to remain calm
  • you don’t feel that the mediator running your mediation has adequately prepared you

It includes:

  • a live video coaching session (can also be by phone if preferred)
  • a workbook to help you to practice and prepare after the coaching session

Pre-Mediation Coaching provides individualised support to prepare for mediation including help to prepare proposals and practice negotiation skills.

If you want to work with a coach face to face visit our Find a Coach Page and contact them directly

You can book in for additional sessions with your coach if required.

MFN-FDR Pre-Mediation

Once you have started the New Ways for Families course you can get started with your mediator.

They must undertake a pre-mediation risk assessment and help you prepare for the mediation. This is not a replacement for the pre-mediation coaching / New Ways for Families Coaching as the work the coach does with you is different to pre-mediation.

Even if you and/or the mediator decides not to proceed with mediation the Coaching will help you to cope with the situation you are in and develop skills to deal with your difficult co-parent.

What happens in Pre-Mediation?

The pre-mediation preparation stage is conducted by a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner who will undertake risk screening and talk to you about safety.

If you have been the victim of family violence, they will talk with you about your Safety Plan to help protect yourself and your family from future incidents of violence.

If you have used family violence tactics with your family they will talk to you about programs available to help you to change your behaviour so that you do not hurt the people you love by your words and actions in the future.

During this stage in the High Conflict Mediation Process they will also help you to prepare for the mediation by talking with you about:

  • Parenting Plans – these are written and signed agreements about parenting. They can be long term or, as we recommend when you are making major changes, for a set period of time with a review session pre-planned.
  • Asset Pool Disclosure – full disclosure of everything that you have and everything that you owe is the first step if you need a property settlement agreement. In this part of the process the mediator will talk with you each about your asset pool, ways that people value the various items. In most cases people leave the pre-mediation session with an action plan of tasks needed to determine the asset pool
  • What You Want – you will already have done some work with your New Ways Coach on making proposals. The mediator will check that you have a clear understanding of your preferred options, your fallback position, your non-negotiables (if any) and how those options compare with your legal advice. If you have not had legal advice, they will help you to understand the value in understanding your legal rights and obligations.
  • Explaining the Chosen Process – if there has been high conflict or family violence happening in your family you are probably feeling pretty nervous about what is going to happen in High Conflict FDR. The mediator will explain the process, their role, your role and that of your former partner. They will answer any questions you have and make sure that you are OK to proceed.

MFN-FDR Mediation

This service is for people who have not been successful in reaching a resolution in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR).

It is also suitable for people who have not been able to participate in Family Dispute Resolution because the other person refused or a FDR service decided that standard FDR was not appropriate due to a history of Family Violence or High Conflict.

It is facilitated by a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner who is still a neutral third party who is able to speak directly and work with you both to negotiate a resolution without being on either of your “side”.  That means that they understand and are working towards both parties genuine interests (what is really important to you) and the interests of your children rather than the more traditional lawyer negotiation where a lawyer representing one party puts proposals to the other under threat of family court.

Do you have a s60i Certificate?

You can still try to negotiate an agreement and avoid going to court even if another Family Dispute Resolution Service has issued a Section 60i Certificate.

Just because you can go to court for parenting orders that doesn’t mean that is your only or best option.

Are you already in the Family Court?

It can be many months between court appearances and lawyers may be reluctant to negotiate on your behalf during the process.

If you want a resolution and are not getting support for that contact us to find out if Mediator Facilitated Negotiation is an option.

Safety First

The first step in the Mediator Facilitated Negotiation is always a detailed personal history and safety planning discussion.

Clients come into this service with some history of claimed or proven family violence or abuse. We need to make sure that our intervention will not make a bad situation worse and so reserve the right to determine if we will work with your family on a case by case basis.

The benefits of a Mediator Facilitated Negotiation

There is no substitute for getting together to talk about your issues but that isn’t always possible.

If you have not been able to mediate directly with the other person then you are probably moving rapidly towards going to court. Family Court is a difficult and expensive way of getting orders regarding parenting or property.

You may end up spending tens of thousands of dollars or more without getting any sort of result and you will see an escalation of conflict and distrust between you and your former partner.

For less than $1,000 using Mediator Facilitated Negotiation you can put a well-crafted proposal to your ex and get a response back that gives you a good understanding of where you stand.  In many cases you will be able to reach a compromise and move towards an agreement that is workable and acceptable to you both.

If you go to court, you are likely to end up with a compromise agreement too but that will usually be when you are running out of money and desperate to get out of the court. Only 15% of Family Court Matters go to a final trial. The rest get Orders by Consent which are often reached under pressure and don’t really work for either party.

Mediator Facilitated Negotiation is for you if …

You cannot communicate directly with the other person due to a family violence order or because they refuse direct communication with you.

As long as you have their contact details and the Intervention Order permits negotiation by a mediator the service can help.

Our practitioner will help you to identify the issues for negotiation (parenting and/or property), develop and put proposals and facilitate the negotiation of the terms of any agreement reached.

While our practitioners are family law professionals, they will not be providing you with independent legal advice during this process. Their role is as a neutral facilitator who will help you to clarify and develop a proposal, will help you to reality test what you are asking against the likelihood of your proposal being accepted and most importantly be able to speak directly to the other person to explain your motivation in making the request that you do.

They have an obligation towards the safety of your children and will raise any issues or concerns with either you or the authorities if children are being subject to abuse or neglect.

It is designed to help resolve issues when mediation has failed, and the only other alternative is to go to family court. It can also be used to deal with practical issues while working your way through the family court system.

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