Family Mediation

Context

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution (also known as ADR) process used by parties to a dispute as a means to reach a resolution outside of the traditional court system. Family mediation is a common practice area in Australia as it is now a mandatory step that parties to a family dispute must take before initiating proceedings in the family courts.

You can learn more about family mediation by visiting the Relationships Australia website: Family mediation and dispute resolution | Family Relationships Online.

In mediation matters, a firm will act as the mediator or FDRP but not as the client’s solicitor, and this had been difficult to log accurately in Smokeball because a firm was configured to be set as the solicitor for parties in the client role. There was also no way to enter who the party’s solicitor is and have them populated in document automation.

Solution

Smokeball is now supporting family mediation, so if you practise as a mediator in family law and conduct mediation matters as part of your practice, you can now start entering your family mediation matters into Smokeball and use the accompanying forms and precedents as well as the Family Property integration.

N.B. These matter types are designed to be used by a Mediator, not by a solicitor acting for one of the parties to a mediation.

Specifically, you will now see in Smokeball:

  1. Three new matter types that support having both sides
  2. Accompanying forms and precedents
  3. Family Property integration, and
  4. The ability to enter the applicable solicitor for each client in mediation matter types and have it flow through to automation.

Release Details

  1. Matter Types
  2. Forms and Precedents
  3. Layouts and Contacts
  4. Party B
  5. Party Details
  6. Mediation Details
  7. Relationship Details

Matter Types

  • Children Mediation
  • Children and Property Mediation
  • Property Mediation

The Family Mediation matters can be found in the 'Family Mediation' category.

The Family Mediation Lead is also found in the Family Mediation category.

When you create a Mediation matter, you will see the Solicitor relationship for each Client and can enter the relevant representative, which will flow through in automation.

Regular matters are unaffected by this feature, so you will not see the Solicitor relationship with any party you represent in the Client role and the firm is automatically assigned as their Solicitor, which will flow through in automation.

Forms and Precedents

  • Invitation to Mediate
  • Letter confirming Mediation
  • Agreement to Mediate (this is legally drafted and needs to be provided by the firm)
  • Section 60I Certificate
  • Certificate of Dispute Resolution

Layouts and Contacts

  • Party
    • Party Details, including Barrister and Support Persons for this Party
  • Mediation Details
  • Relationship Details
  • Child
  • Independent Children's Lawyer
  • Valuer
  • Accountant
  • Expert
  • Legal Aid
  • Previous Solicitor
  • Additional Contact

The Family Mediation matters also integrate with FamilyProperty, which can be launched via the FamilyProperty button:

Party B

There will always be at least 2 parties involved in a mediation. To add the second Party, clients can right-click on Party > Add Party > Different Solicitor.

Details for each Party (including their solicitor) can then be entered in the matter.

Party Details

Information about each Party should be entered in the Party > 'Details' sublayout. This information might include the relationship of the party to the other party, and any Barrister or Support Persons that this party has.

Mediation Details

Information about the Mediation should be entered in the Mediation Details layout. This includes information about the Party pre-mediation conferences, and the Mediation date(s). The dates entered in Mediation Details can be used in Workflows and Tasks.

Relationship Details

Information about the Partys' relationship should be entered in the Mediation layout. This includes information about key dates in the relationship.

We welcome any feedback you may have about the matter types, forms, precedents, layouts, and contacts made available as part of the family mediation offering. If you have your own precedents you wish to upload or require any assistance or training in relation to any of the above, please Contact Us.

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