When it comes to commencing court proceedings for matters related to parenting, the parties involved are required to obtain a section 60I certificate. However, if there is family violence, the parties shall be exempted from mediation.
It’s important to keep in mind that just because parties don’t need to attend mediation before Court proceedings, mediation is still an option in the event of family violence.
While you may think attending mediation is not possible or appropriate as it is not mandatory if there is or has been a risk of family violence, the fact is that both parties can proceed with mediation if they wish to.
The Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner, though, can choose to decline the process of mediation if it seems fit. According to the Family Law Regulations of 1984, the mediator must evaluate if the client’s ability to negotiate directly and freely is affected by any one or a combination of the following factors:
The main issue for the mediator will usually be to determine if the clients can attend safely and, not to mention if they can participate in the mediation process and make consensual decisions.
Nonetheless, in the event of family violence, there is a possibility that mediation would make a bad situation even worse and cause more problems down the road, due to:
Some, however, argue that family violence doesn’t automatically preclude mediation. If the victim is exempted from mediation, it may end up exposing them as well as their children to much greater potential harm.
Other commentators believe the imbalance of power can only be amplified during the Court proceedings. There is also the view that the victims of family violence can gain more security by going through the Court process.
If the parties decide to proceed with mediation for family violence, there are a number of safeguards you can consider, including:
So, while mediation in the event of family violence does raise complex and difficult questions, at the same time, it can prove an effective means of finding solutions if there has been violence at home!