How Long Does Mediation Take and What Affects This?Nick Richards FDRP LL.B MBA GDLP DMgmt MQLS
Mediation is a relatively prompt process however some factors may see minor delays.
The Process of Mediation
A simple process consists of a mediator being engaged by the initiating party whereby they undergo a formal consultation followed by the mediator sending an invitation to the other party. Some responding parties may reply quickly, however, it has been known to take some time as parties may need to obtain advice concerning their legal rights and obligations before their formal consultation, after which when completed the mediation conference date will be allocated to the parties.
Lead times of mediation organisations and mediators
Depending on the type of service you are engaged with will determine the time the mediation process will take. The difference between government-managed bodies, NGOs, and private practice all vary greatly, for several reasons, however, the subsidised bodies are in demand due to the low cost and bare-bones nature of their service delivery.
Government managed bodies
Organisations such as Relationships Australia and Family Relationship Centres throughout Australia appear to be under immense strain and or are not being administered effectively. Feedback obtained from clients on a daily basis shows an average of over 4 weeks for the formal consultation and up to 5 months for the mediation conference.
Organisations such as Anglicare, Uniting Care, Catholic Care, Interrelate, and FRCs also appear to be under immense strain and or are not being administered effectively. Feedback obtained from clients on a daily basis shows an average of over 6 weeks for the formal consultation and up to 6 months for the mediation conference.
There are a number of experienced key service providers in Australia offering family dispute resolution in-person, online, and via teleconference that is able to progress disputing parties through family mediation in as little as 10 business days.
Whilst there are some service providers that promise even less than 10 business days, their tenure in the industry is short, their experience is lacking and history has shown these operators do not appear to last over the long period.
Possible causes of delay in mediation
There may be factors that slow the progress of mediation.
- the willingness of the other party to cooperate in the process;
- increased demand on the service provider;
- involvement of additional parties such as legal representatives;
- increase in the national divorce rate;
- involvement of 3rd party assistance such as canvassing of expert reports; and
- the strain on the finances of either party to participate in the process.
Case management in mediation
An experienced and qualified mediator is likely to effectively manage their caseload whilst navigating through the usual causes of a delay in mediation. Clients should work with their mediator directly to reduce any likelihood of delays in the mediation process, due to the fact that disputes that remain unresolved worsen over time.
NOTICE: The above is not legal advice and it is recommended that you obtain tailored legal advice related to your own personal circumstances from an Australian legal practitioner.