The end of any relationship is stressful, unsettling and puts an emotional and financial strain on all involved. Our specialist team of family mediation solicitors have extensive experience in supporting people throughout this difficult time and managing disputes to make sure you get the best possible outcome.
One way of doing this is through a process called mediation. Sometimes it is helpful for a neutral third party to help mediate to avoid court proceedings and to enable discussion within a less formal environment.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a method of resolving issues that may arise on the breakdown of a relationship. In mediation, both of you are helped by a mediator to look for your own solutions. It is a process that provides an alternative to going to court. Increasingly, people use family dispute mediation to resolve a host of family problems, such as disputes between a parent and child or contact with grandchildren in addition to financial disagreements.
How does mediation work?
The process involves both of you explaining your concerns and needs to each other in the presence of a qualified family mediator in a neutral environment. The mediator is impartial, which means that they cannot give advice, only provide information. They are there to facilitate a settlement by assisting you both. The mediator does not make decisions or impose a settlement. The mediator will help you work through options, ‘reality check’ your proposals and will ensure that there is not a power imbalance in the negotiations.
Through family law mediation, you will both have the opportunity to improve your communication and chances of long-term co-operation, which is essential where there are children. The mediator controls the process and you will both retain control of the decisions made. There is always full financial disclosure if the mediation relates to financial issues.
If mediation breaks down, what is said cannot be used in court later. This does not apply to factual information given during the mediation process, such as details of income and property. However, it would cover negotiations and offers of settlement.
The mediation solicitor will record any understanding in a memorandum of understanding, which is signed by both of you and the mediator. It is not legally binding. This means that it cannot be enforced in court unless you both decide to make it a court order. You each have the freedom to find another way of dealing with the dispute at any time. Mediation does not generally remove the need for legal advice.
Benefits of mediation
- Generally, more cost effective and quicker than going to court;
- Mediation is a flexible process that can be used to work out a variety of disputes;
- It can help to reduce tension, anger and misunderstanding between you;
- Can be used at any time, whether or not you’ve seen a solicitor and proceedings have begun;
- Confidentiality – the mediator will not pass information on unless you both agree. However, if it appears that someone has been seriously hurt, or is at risk, the mediator may alert the police or social services.
How long does mediation take?
Mediation takes on average between four and six sessions, each lasting about an hour and a half. However, you will both determine the pace.
If you think that family law mediation is the right choice for you and your family and would like to be referred, please fill out the mediation form attached.
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