At your initial one-on-one session, Janine will ask you very briefly about why you separated, and hear a little about what has been happening for each of you since separation. This helps her to understand where each of you is coming from when you come to the joint mediation.
The main focus of the discussion will be your current assets and future needs. At this stage you will work together to create a rough list of your assets and liabilities, including any property, vehicles, superannuation, businesses, investments, loans and credit card debts. You’ll then talk through your idea of what would be a fair split. This is all completely confidential.
You don’t need to bring much paperwork to your individual session, but it can be useful to get some legal advice from a specialist family lawyer beforehand. Knowing what you may be entitled to under the Australian Family Law legislation is a help when you and your partner have a different opinion about what is “fair”. The legislation is the only real, objective and fair guideline about how assets should be divided.
That said, ultimately in mediation you and your partner decide on the outcomes. If you haven’t had time to get legal advice before your pre-mediation, that is fine.
Prior to coming to the joint mediation Janine will ask you to prepare some documentation that may help you to move quickly through the process. It is a waste of time and money to come to mediation and argue at length about the value of your assets.
Some of things we might ask you to bring will be:
If you feel like the value of your property is easily agreed on, you may not need to bother with a valuation. However, if it could be a point of contention, we recommend that you bring along a valuation from a registered valuer, or three appraisals from real estate agents, which are averaged out. For some couples this is discussed at the first joint session, as there are sometimes logistical issues about arranging meeting times and access to properties.
Again if this is a matter of contention, We recommend clients go to car valuation sites such as www.redbook.com.au and print out the values of their vehicles (adjusted for year model and mileage).
Other valuations that may be helpful to bring along include those for assets like antiques, boats and caravans. You may agree at mediation to have a family business valued or have your superannuation valued for family law purposes.
Statements showing the current balance of liabilities are often very useful in property mediation.
Bring along any statements showing current cash values in bank accounts or share portfolios.
These can be relevant, although differences between superannuation schemes may mean that they need to be examined by a specialist valuer before being compared in the asset pool.