As Family Mediation Week draws to a close, it is a pertinent time to reflect on the benefits of mediation. Mediation is voluntary process which can help separating couples to reach child arrangements and financial agreements outside of the court process. It can help reach a resolution more quickly and save on legal fees.
A mediator is an independent, neutral third party who does not give legal advice but skilfully explores options and facilitates discussions between the parties to help resolve issues. Typically mediation sessions involve the two parties in a room with the mediator. If the parties do not feel they can sit together but still wish to attempt to reach an agreement through mediation they can sit in separate rooms with the mediator ‘shuttling’ between them.
Mediation can progress in conjunction with receiving legal advice; parties often discuss negotiations with their solicitors between sessions. Sometimes it can be appropriate for parties to have their solicitors with them at mediation sessions.
If the dispute relates to child arrangements, the parents may wish to consider Child Inclusive Mediation. The child sits with a specially trained mediator without their parents, so they can freely express their opinions and feel heard. The mediator relays to the parents only what the child has agreed can be told. At a time when the child may be feeling unsettled and not want to upset either parent by telling them how they are feeling, working together in this process helps the parents to understand their child’s feelings and make the best decisions for their child.