How can family mediation help you?


18 January 2021

Mediation offers a supportive, flexible and cost-effective way for people to address matters relating to their family on separation.

Those issues can include:

  • the ongoing parenting arrangements for any children
  • child maintenance payments
  • the division of finances (for example any property, savings, pensions or debts that the parties’ have)
  • the practical arrangements for separating including interim finances
  • communication now and in the future.

What is family mediation?

Mediation is a form of assisted negotiation whereby couples agree to appoint a professionally trained third party (the mediator) to assist them in resolving their dispute. The mediator is an independent third person, who helps the parties reach an appropriate settlement, which is responsive to each individual’s needs.

The role of a mediator is not to impose a decision on the parties – rather they are there to facilitate the discussions, with the key decisions then being made by the parties themselves.

Mediation meetings are private to enable open discussions to take place.

How family mediation works

If you elect to go to court to sort out your dispute, a judge will have to make decisions on your behalf. You are then bound to abide by those decisions, even if one or both of you feel unhappy about them.

Mediation can help you stay in control of your separation/divorce process. The mediator will help you try and find a solution which works well for both of you, and explain how you can make any agreement reached legally binding.

Research has shown that mediation can help to facilitate settlement, and even where mediation does not result in a resolution of all matters, it often helps to narrow the issues. Some advantages of mediation therefore include:

  • a personal plan for every participant of mediation
  • allowing parties to express how they feel and how they wish to resolve matter
  • solutions can be considered that a court may not necessarily be able to order
  • time and money can be saved out of court and the process is more flexible
  • it can open up channels of communication between parties, which can be of real benefit to the parties themselves and their children
  • underlying issues like the desire for an apology or admittance of wrong doing can be dealt with
  • if appropriate, it is possible for children to have a voice in the mediation process.

You are always able to take legal advice at any point in the mediation process.

A mediated outcome can be recorded as a legally binding court order.

Am I too late to mediate?

It is never too late to mediate even if court proceedings have started, mediation can begin.

Who attends family mediation?

Anyone can attend whatever their family situation, be it same sex relationships, couples, parents, grandparents and other family members.

How long does family mediation take?

This depends on the matters to be discussed but can be considerably quicker, than the more traditional route of communicating through solicitors or a court application.

Who pays for family mediation?

Ordinarily, the costs involved are shared equally between the parties. However, on occasion, one party may by agreement pay a greater proportion of the associated costs, or alternatively pay the costs in full.

How do meetings take place?

In light of current restrictions we can accommodate your mediation virtually via Zoom or WhatsApp and face-to-face when circumstances permit in the future. You do not have to be in the same room, virtual or physical as the other party.

Is family mediation compulsory?

No, mediation is voluntary, it can only take place if the participants wish to commit to resolving their dispute in this way.

When is mediation not appropriate?

It should be noted that mediation is not appropriate when there is evidence of domestic abuse, or significant welfare/child protection issues are raised by one or both parties at the initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

One of the key tasks of the mediator at the MIAM is to carry out a safeguarding screening enquiry with each party, to consider if it is both safe and appropriate to mediate. If the mediator does not consider it safe and appropriate to mediate, then mediation will not take place, and the parties will have to find an alternative means of resolving their dispute.

The emotional benefits of mediation

Those that mediate have been found to recover emotionally and thus able to move on with their lives far quicker than those engaged in court proceedings.

How to arrange family mediation

If you would like to know more about whether mediation can help you and your family, or alternatively if you would like to arrange a MIAM, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and professional mediators.

The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at January 2021.

Authors

Katie Beaven

Partner

+44 (0)1473 406358

Debbie Lloyd

Senior Associate, Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer

+44 (0)1603 756433

+44 (0)7854 833568

Sarah Overy

Senior Associate

+44(0)1223 326659

+44(0)7971 577076

Ivana Radovic

Senior Associate

+44 (0)1245 211289

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