Mediation gives Amanda & David breathing space

March 25, 2024

When Amanda first contacted CatholicCare for help with property mediation, her life was nothing short of chaotic. “You name it, it had happened,” says Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner Melanie. “Amanda lost her licence, she had a car accident, and she had a medical incident that put her in hospital. Her two sons weren’t comfortable going to see her and the bank were about to sell their properties.”

Melanie worked with Amanda and former partner, David for several months assisting them with mediation around both parenting and property. “They owned multiple properties and had quite a few assets, but they had huge debts with significant mortgages on their properties,” says Melanie. “Amanda and David were living in two separate Sydney based properties, which meant that they weren’t getting rental returns for these properties. Their financial situation was dire. Amanda wasn’t working and David had been retrenched.”

Melanie says that the aim was to allow some breathing space for the family. “Obviously, the most important thing is the kids, but it is really hard to focus on the kids when there is this urgent financial situation happening in the background. The kids were not coping with the situation, and they had started threatening self-harm.”

It became evident very quickly that Amanda had a mental illness that was exacerbating the stress of the situation. “They were in a huge mess and agreed they needed a property settlement mediation,” Melanie says.

The property mediation resulted in full agreement on the division of the properties as well as other assets. These agreements were drafted into Consent Orders and filed with the Court. The outcome was that Amanda and David could sell some of their properties which relieved their financial pressures significantly.

Melanie admits that Amanda found it hard to follow through with the agreement. “She had second thoughts about how they could make it work without having to sell anything. Those thoughts were all part of her mental illness.”

However, the mediation significantly reduced the stress of both parties, which ultimately improved their capacity as parents. “At the time the kids were living with David, and he was very stressed,” Melanie says. “The mediation reduced his stress, which meant he could focus on parenting again.”

Following the successful property mediation, a parenting mediation was attempted, albeit unsuccessfully. “Amanda wanted the kids to return to her and David tried to explain that the kids didn’t feel comfortable doing that,” Melanie says. Both parties realised they needed the Court to make decisions that were in the children’s best interests.

Today, life for Amanda and David is far from perfect, but mediation has removed some of the major stressors in their lives. “They have some breathing space now,” Melanie says, “and they can focus on the children again.”

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