Annabel Varvel FAQ

About the process

What is family law mediation (Family Dispute Resolution)?

Family Law Mediation (Family Dispute Resolution), is a process in which a Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner (Mediator)  facilitates a structured discussion between separated people with respect to parenting and/or property issues.  The mediator will provide a safe environment for what is often difficult discussions to take place, and hopefully help you reach agreement on issues in dispute.  ….read more

What is the mediation process?

The initial step in the mediation process is for you to contact us (link to contact page/box) for your free 10 minute consultation.  We can discuss your needs and if appropriate book an intake appointment with you…. Read more

What topics can be discussed at mediation?

mediation topics You can discuss any topics  that you both agree should go on the agenda of your mediation.  Commonly mediated topics include:
Parenting matters Property/Financial matters
  • How the child/ren should spend time with each parent.
  • School holidays
  • Education – where the child will go to school
  • Special occasions eg birthdays, Christmas
  • Health
  • Practical day to day issues eg discipline, exchange of belongings, changeover
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Religion
  • Shared financial responsibility for the children
  • how to divide the family assets/liabilities
  • who will stay in the family home
  • will the family home be sold?
  • how the expenses will be shared until property settlement
  • value of assets/liabilities
  • superannuation
  • child support
  • school fees

Can my children have a say in mediation?

Children will never attend Family Dispute Resolution/Mediation. If however, both parents would like their children to have input into the process, we can make arrangements for the children to meet with a Child Consultant (usually a clinical psychologist or social worker) prior to the mediation.  The Child Consultant would then come to the mediation to provide both parents with feedback from the child session. This would only be offered to children school age and above and with the Child Consultants approval.  There are additional fees associated with this service. If you are interested in your children meeting with a child consultant, please discuss this at your intake session.

What if I have a Protection Order because of Domestic Family Violence?

You will need to bring a copy of your Protection Order to the intake so that the mediator can assess whether mediation is provided for in your order. If it is, we will discuss how to make your mediation a safe environment for you.  If your Order doesn’t allow for mediation, we will discuss providing you with a s60I certificate.

Will I be safe?

At your intake session the mediator will carefully assess whether mediation is appropriate in your case and in particular how to ensure everyone is safe.  If you have particular concerns for your safety please make sure you discuss it at intake, or contact us.  We can arrange the mediation in a way that you are safe.

Can I bring my lawyer?

Yes, we do offer legally assisted mediation. If you would like to bring your lawyer, you will need to discuss this at your intake session.  If you would like lawyer assisted mediation, we will need to ensure the other person has an opportunity to bring their lawyer.  For lawyer assisted mediations, we usually allow a day for the mediation.

Is the process confidential?

Anything discussed with your mediator at intake is confidential as far as is permitted by law.  We will never share your information with the other party, nor their’s with you. The content of the discussion in mediation is confidential and cannot be used in a legal process.  This is provided for in Section 10J of the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006. The mediator will never disclose details of anything disclosed in an intake or mediation session, except where:
  • the person making the disclosure is over 18 years and gives their consent,
  • the mediator is required by law to disclose
  • illegal or exceptional circumstances exist.
In exchange for a high level of confidentiality, there is an expectation that parties are mediating in good faith and will disclose all relevant information during the mediation process.  Unless full disclosure is made, the mediation cannot commence, or continue.

Parenting Plans – what are they?

A Parenting Plan is a written document signed and dated (without  threat, duress or coercion) by both parents that sets out an arrangement for their children.  A Parenting Plan is not legally binding however it may have legal consequences.  If you are considering entering into a Parenting Plan, you should obtain independent legal advice. The Family Law Act 1975 sets out that if it is in the best interests of the child, and its reasonably practicable, parents could consider including arrangements in their parenting plan such as:
  • The child/ren spending equal time with each parent
  • The child/ren spending substantial or significant time with each parent.  Section 63DA(3)  provides this to mean that the Parenting Plan includes:
  • Time with each parent of weekends and holidays
  • Time with each parent that is not on weekends and holidays
  • Time that allows each parent to be part of the child/ren’s daily routine and
  • Time that allows each parent to be involved in occasions and events that are of particular significance to the child and parents.
A Parenting Plan, according to Section 63C(2) may include:
  • who the child lives with
  • the time the children spends with other people.
  • The allocation of parental responsibility
  • If Parental responsibility is to be shared, the methods of communication between those people.
  • The communication a child is to have with another person/s.
  • Maintenance of a child.
  • The process of resolving Parental disputes over the Parenting Plan
  • The process to be used for changing the plan to take account of changing needs or circumstances
  • Any aspect of the care, welfare or development of the child or any other aspect of parental responsibility for a child.

Will agreements we reach at mediation be legally binding?

If you have your lawyers present at the mediation, you can, have your agreements drawn up into a Consent Order to lodge in the Family Court.  This would then become a legally binding agreement. If you don’t have lawyers present, you can still agree writing that you wish for your agreement to be either a Parenting Plan or that you have the intention of having their agreement turned into a Consent Order in the Family Court. In general, any agreements made during the mediation process will be recorded by the mediator and a copy will be made available at the conclusion of the mediation to each client. Unless the parties otherwise agree in writing, any agreement reached will be a good faith agreement.

What happens if we can’t agree at mediation?

If there is no agreement reached at mediation, you have a number of options:
  • reschedule a further mediation  - sometimes it’s too early (post separation) to reach agreement, or there isn’t enough information to make decisions.  It is common to require more than 1 mediation session.
  • consider doing a FDR-1 (Family Dispute Resolution for One) session with another of our highly experienced mediators.
  • contact a lawyer to get further legal advice
  • request a s60I Certificate to enable you to commence proceedings in court for children’s matters. (no certificates are required for property).

What if my ex won’t come to mediation?

If your ex-partner does not wish to participate in mediation with us you have a number of options:
  • try another mediation organisation eg Family Relationship Centre
  • contact a lawyer to get further legal advice
  • request a s60I Certificate to enable you to commence proceedings in court for children’s matters. (no certificates are required for property matters).
  • to help you work out a strategy to move forward, you might like to do our FDR-1 coaching session.

Do I need to bring anything?

It is useful to bring to your intake session:
  • A copy of any existing Court Orders
  • A copy of any Protection Order
  • Contact details for the person you wish to mediate with.
  • A summary of your financial situation (assets/liabilities) etc for financial/property medations
  • Several options of how to resolve the issues you wish to discuss at mediation.
We will discuss with you at intake whether you will need to bring anything to the mediation session.  Generally for parenting matters no documents are required but for financial discussions the most up to date specifics of your financial position is helpful.

How much will it cost?

We are a very reasonably priced Brisbane mediation practice.  We pride ourselves on offering our clients exceptional value for money.   Our intake fees are $150 and mediation rates are $250 ph.  Usually costs are shared equally.  Read more

How long will it all take?

The process at Annabel Varvel & Associates, Family Mediators is as streamlined as possible to allow for a prompt service for you.

Usually we can offer intake sessions within 2 weeks.  How long it takes to arrange the mediation will largely depend on the availability of  both the parties. We would aim to offer mediation within 4-6 weeks from initial contact.   Many of the Family Relationship Centres (govt funded) having waiting lists for several months for an initial intake appointment.

We will usually set aside 3 hours for a mediation, unless there are complex issues, property  and parenting matters to discuss or you would like lawyers present.  In those situations we would either allow a day (9am to 4pm) or will schedule more than 1 session.  Usually 3 hours in one session is plenty as it can be both mentally and physically draining. We will always discuss your situation with you and make specific arrangements for you.

Where will the mediation take place?

Annabel Varvel & Associates, Family Mediators are in Brisbane.  We service the greater Brisbane region. Our intake sessions take place either on the telephone or at  a mutually convenient location. For our mediations we use serviced offices in Toowong or the Brisbane CBD.  This is an additional cost (usually between $200-300). For legally assisted mediations, if everyone agrees, it is often possible to use one of the lawyer’s conference rooms, usually at no additional cost.

Is mediation right for me?

I need to get on with my life.

  • Resolving your conflict will help you do that.
  • We can also refer you to people such as life coaches or counsellors to help you move forward through your separation.

My legal bills are getting out of control – how can I stop it?

  • Resolving your disputes at mediation is a much more cost effective process than protracted legal negotiation or court action.
  • We can help you narrow the issues in dispute which can help reduce legal bills
  • Mediation can be done at any stage, even if you’ve tried it before, sometimes it’s about getting the timing right.
  • We do offer legally assisted mediations, so you are welcome to bring your lawyer if you would like to.  Then if agreement is reached, your lawyer can draft up Consent Orders.

I need closure – I’m sick of the battle.

  • We can help you narrow the issues in dispute and give you a safe process and structure to resolve those issues.
  • We know how important it is to move forward and get on with the rest of your life.  We can make referrals to other professionals and organisations that might help you too.

I need to keep the children out of this

  • Mediation is a respectful process where your children’s best interests are the focus of any discussion.  One significant role of the mediator is to help keep the focus of any discussion focussed on your children’s best interests.

Marriage counselling hasn’t worked, what do I do next?

  • We can help you manage your divorce/separation process in a respectful and holistic way.
  • Come to us FIRST and we can help you navigate the divorce/separation minefield.

I think my marriage/relationship is over, what do I do?

  • Come and talk to us  - we can discuss what is the best process for you and your family right now.
  • We can refer you to other professionals if necessary
  • Mediation can be done at many stages in the separation process.

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