What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where two or more parties appoint a neutral third party (mediator) to help them in a non-binding dialogue to resolve a dispute and/or to conclude in terms of an agreement. Mediation is mostly a private and voluntary mechanism used by parties to avoid the costly alternative that is litigation. Any settlement terms reached during a mediation can be recorded and signed as an enforceable contract.
How does mediation work in South Africa?
Mediation can be initiated on a voluntary or mandatory basis.
Section 33(1) of the Children's Act, Act 38 of 2005, describes the following: "the co-holders of parental responsibilites and rights in respect of a child may agree on a parenting plan determining the exercise of their respective responsibilities and rights in respect of the child"
According to this, parties can voluntarily and jointly decide to approach a mediator to assist in compiling a parenting plan. They can also be referred from their respective legal representatives or another professional.
Should parties have difficulties reaching agreements or have disputes, before approaching the court, mandatory mediation must first take place.
The following services are available in terms of mediation:
Family and Divorce Mediation - including child participation
Parenting Plans (including residency and contact plans)