Family Forum: Exhausted by mediation

Exhausted and frustrated by more changes in a long mediation process


My ex-husband and I separated a few years ago and things have not been amicable. We have kids at primary school and high school and have just spent two years going through court to resolve parenting arrangements. Now, after only six months of the order being in effect, he is requesting for me to return to mediation because he wants to change some of the order. I am not sure if I can do this, I am mentally and financially exhausted. I feel that even when I got the letter that he was just continuing to find ways to abuse me. I can’t afford to go back to my lawyer. Do I need to go back to mediation? If he starts not following the order that is in place, what can I do?


The legal process can be very difficult, long and costly, both financially and emotionally.

The court will not allow a new application to change parenting arrangements so soon after your order has been made, unless there has been a very significant change, which was not foreseeable when the order was made. If your former partner has simply changed his mind, he will not be able to alter the existing order. If you do not want to alter the existing order, you are not obliged to undertake more mediation with your former husband.

If you have received a letter inviting you to mediate by a mediation provider, you could attend to speak to someone to gain some support and further understanding of your options. Just attending intake doesn’t commit you to attend mediation. If it is only a letter from his lawyer requesting mediation, contact the Legal Services Commission for advice and assistance (1300 366 424).

You mention that your former husband has been abusive and it may be, in those circumstances, that the mediation process is not appropriate for you. This can be determined by a mediator if you attend an intake for mediation. Tell him that you are content with the existing order and that you are not prepared to go through further negotiation or mediation. If your ex-husband disobeys the order, you may be able to take proceedings for contravention of the order, or for enforcement of the order. In those circumstances, the court might direct your former husband to pay you costs, that is to reimburse you some of your legal fees. You may be entitled to apply for legal aid to help you deal with him now. Contact the Legal Services Commission for advice and assistance (1300 366 424).

Your teenage children are at an age where their own views about what contact they want with their father will be the paramount consideration.

The stress of dealing with a situation like this is often overwhelming. Speak to your GP for help in coping, or contact a counselling agency.

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