Doing It For The Kids: Family Dispute Resolution

There was a time when you couldn’t get enough of each other. You were lovers and best friends forever. You moved in together and had a couple of kids. Soon there was another bundle on the way. You got a dog and some goldfish.

The renovations started and then somehow it all went wrong. Suspicion and mistrust settled into your beautiful home. Sneaking a look at your partner’s text messages was something you never thought you were capable of doing. It really hurt when you found your suspicions realised. The vibe in the house changed from joy to a storm centre where hostile winds oscillated between passive and surly to fast and furious. Neither of you wanted to fight in front of the kids but it happened. Sometimes even when you saw their startled little faces you could not cease the fire.

Then one of you left the house, into the arms of another and that’s when the battle really took off. Both of you love the kids but your contempt for one another made you do things that hurt and confused them. You’d be late bringing the kids back, or you wouldn’t allow the other party to see them, or take them on holidays. Sometimes you just couldn’t help but say negative things about the other parent and the kids thought they were bad because of it. When the war escalated to dizzy heights you got interventions orders out on each other. Everyone felt bad: nobody was happy. With the intervention orders you both got scared and imagined yourselves in court, spending thousands of dollars and fighting with lawyers as mouth-pieces.

Then you heard about Family Dispute Resolution. You were able to proceed to the resolution process (mediation) even though you had intervention orders as both orders had mediation exemption clauses. Both of you could meet with the Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner alone to discuss how the situation was affecting you and to work out how best you were going to negotiate for yourselves in mediation. When the time came for the joint session the privacy was way better than at court or a non-profit organisation with heaps of people wandering around. The mediator was impartial and supported both of you to focus on the kids. Neither of you felt demonised as the Practitioner’s understanding of conflict was sound and she made it clear that conflict is essentially about perception, and that no one person was at fault. This allowed you to recognise that hurt and blame have their place in the chamber of broken hearts, but not when it comes to your children’s best interests.

You leave with a parenting plan that you created peacefully together and are nowhere near as out of pocket had you pursued your matter in The Family Court. As your plan is not court ordered you may return to mediation at any time in the event of further disagreement.

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