FAMAC receives many queries and questions regarding mediation and facilitation. Below are some of the FAQ’s:
1. What is the difference between mediation and facilitation?
Mediation is a voluntary process. Facilitation is initially voluntary, the parties having agreed to it, and is then made an order of court, also by agreement. The facilitator is appointed in terms of the Court Order. In mediation, the parents come to agreement regarding an issue. In facilitation, the facilitator will always first attempt to mediate a dispute between the parents, but, if they cannot come to agreement, the facilitator has the authority to make a decision that is binding on them.
2. What if mediation does not work out or if one parent refuses to continue with the mediation process?
Since mediation is voluntary, either parent may decide at any stage that he or she no longer wishes to participate in the process. The mediator, too, can terminate the mediation if in his or her discretion it appears inadvisable or pointless to proceed. It is then up to the parties to decide what they want to do next. They may for example wish to consult with their respective attorneys (which they may in any event do during the course of the mediation, and/or take a different route.
3. What if one parent does not stick to a mediated agreement?
Mediation summaries are “without prejudice" , and contain mutually acceptable proposals. They are not binding on the parties until they are signed, which does not occur in the presence of the mediator. Couples are advised to obtain legal advice before a final agreement is entered into.
4. What does mediation/facilitation cost?
Each mediator is free to charge his or her own rates. If you are considering mediation, you should contact the mediators or facilitators of your choice and ask them about their rates. You will find accredited FAMAC mediators and facilitators listed on this website.
5. Will children be involved in the mediation/facilitation process?
Yes, depending on the issues to be discussed, the mediator/facilitator may well need to speak to the children to hear their views. Some mediators may prefer to work with a mental health practitioner and ask him/her to hear the children’s “voice”.
6. How many sessions are required?
This depends on the complexity of the matter as well as the parents’ willingness to negotiate and mediate an agreement.
7. Is the process confidential?
Yes, mediation is confidential and facilitation also, save that a Directive can be used in court. A mediation/facilitation summary or agreement or a directive (facilitation) is made available to the parents at the appropriate times.
8. When does mediation or facilitation take place: before or after divorce/separation?
Mediation usually takes place before divorce/separation and facilitation after divorce/separation. However, parents are always free to mediate any dispute or issue that they may have, it need not necessarily occur at the time that they are considering divorce/separation. And it should be noted that mediation is very much a part of facilitation.
9. What are the benefits of mediation/facilitation?
Mediation and facilitation allow the parents the opportunity to enter into a dialogue around their dispute and to hear what each is thinking in the presence of the neutral professional mediator/facilitator. Mediation and facilitation offer a quicker and less expensive route to dispute resolution than litigation.
10. What if I am unhappy about the mediator/ facilitator?
A complaint about the mediator or facilitator can be sent to FAMAC where the ethics committee will investigate the complaint.