Mediation is a process whereby a neutral third-party mediator facilitates negotiations between couples in a family proceeding to find a solution to one or more issues. It is an integral part of the Family Justice System (“FJC”) where the paramount consideration of the courts is the welfare of the child.
“The FJC’s objective is to keep the distress caused by litigation in family proceedings at a minimum to shield the children from the impact that litigation may entail.”
Over the years, the Singapore courts have actively promoted mediation in family proceedings:
- Firstly, the entrenchment of s50(1) of the Women’s Charter which provides for the court to refer the couples to mediation;
- Secondly, the establishment of the FJC in 2014, a special court to better address the unique needs of family justice;
- Thirdly, the introduction of mandatory mediation and counselling for cases with children below 21 years of age;
- Fourthly, the requirement that all advocates and solicitors representing a client in family proceedings to advise their clients about mediation at the earliest possible stage; and
- Fifthly, the adoption of “Therapeutic Justice” by the FJC – a process where “the entire journey should allow the healing, restoring and recasting of a positive future” and where the Honourable Justice Debbie Ong highlighted the importance of mediation and the role of a family mediator.
Why resolve at Mediation?
The benefits of resolving a family dispute are many and we will touch on the key advantages herein.
First, Mediation assists parties to solve their problems in a non-confrontational and non-adversarial manner. The open communication at Mediation allows parties to make informed choices, develop options and understand the consequences stemming from said choices.
Second, instead of having a judge impose a decision against them, the parties at Mediation (with the assistance of their lawyers and the mediator) make the decisions on how to resolve their dispute and/or conflict.
In essence, they retain complete control over the outcome. This is important as human nature is such that one would feel happier with terms, he/she have agreed upon compared to one that is imposed upon them by the court against his/her will.
Further, where children are involved, the parties would be in the best position as parents to know what is in the best interests of their child. Indeed, an amicable resolution of issues at Mediation helps minimize further long-term damage to the parties’ relationships, including the children.
Third, the focus at Mediation is to problem-solve and assist parties to come to a solution that is practical, workable and acceptable by both taking into account their concerns and goals. There is no finger- pointing and the process is not about deciding who is right or wrong.
Fourth, Mediation is therapeutic in uncovering the parties’ underlying emotions. In some cases, parties have not seen each other for months or even years and simply rely on the parties’ evidence through the court documents.
Seeing, hearing the other parties’ evidence in person, understanding their perspective and reasons provides for emotional healing and in turn lead to an agreement on a course of action.
Fifth, Mediation saves time and costs. There is better cost control as parties are aware on how much to pay to the mediators. On the other hand, in litigation, costs can snowball where interlocutory applications are filed and the matter goes on appeal(s).
Sixth, the Mediation sessions are held on a without prejudice basis. Any matter disclosed during the mediation sessions cannot later be referred to in court. As such, parties are not prejudiced as they can continue with the litigation process thereafter if the mediation sessions were not fruitful in achieving an amicable, global settlement.
If you are looking at ending your marriage quickly and amicably, a Mediation agreement is generally recognised as one with greater workability and sustainability. Contact our Divorce Mediation Lawyers to discuss your concerns in a free initial consultation.