With Family Mediation Week due to take place between 18-22 January 2021, we explain some key points about family mediation and how the process works.
Family Mediation – What is it?
Family mediation is designed to assist divorcing or separating couples reach an agreement in relation to financial and/or children matters that arise as a result of their relationship breakdown.
Who conducts Family Mediation?
Family Mediation is conducted by a trained mediator, who acts as an independent third party and helps to facilitate conversations between couples with a view to reaching an agreement. The mediator has to remain impartial to both parties and is not able to advise one party in preference to the other.
What happens during Family Mediation?
Prior to the commencement of family mediation, each person meets with the mediator alone in order to explain the situation from their point of view. Following this time, the mediator then assesses whether the parties are suitable for mediation, and if so, invites the couple to start attending joint sessions where they can begin discussing issues together. There may be occasions where it is appropriate for your solicitor to be involved in the mediation process alongside you with the mediator talking to you and your solicitor and then talking separately to your former partner and his or her lawyer. Confidences can be kept if you don’t want the mediator to repeat these though not financial information or anything that may risk significant harm to someone. This can often be done in one day rather than over a number of separate shorter meetings. This is called hybrid mediation.
Do I need to sit in the same room as my ex-partner?
No. Most mediators offer a service called “shuttle mediation” where each party sits in a separate room and the mediator goes back and forth between the parties during the session. This is particularly helpful in cases where there has been domestic abuse, but the victim is willing to have discussions to try and resolve the matters in dispute.
How much does mediation cost?
The cost of mediation will depend on the mediator appointed by the parties. Most mediators will give an estimate of costs at the start of the process and the couple will be expected to pay at the end of each session in such shares as they agree. It is much cheaper than court proceedings and cheaper than protracted correspondence between solicitors.
Is mediation a quicker way to resolve my dispute?
Invariably it is much quicker than lengthy solicitors negotiations and certainly court proceedings. Sometimes the issues can be resolved in one or two meetings. In other cases, there may need to be several mediation sessions before a set of proposals is reached. The couple should then consult their legal representatives for advice and to make the mediated agreement into a binding order.
Does mediation always work?
Usually couples will reach agreements or resolve most of the issues. Where that is not possible they will need legal advice and possibly start court proceedings or use another process such as arbitration.
If you would like more information or would like to discuss the options regarding mediation or alternative dispute resolutions please contact Richard Phillips, Senior Consultant Solicitor, Accredited Mediator and Collaborative Lawyer on 01442 972311 or by email on [email protected]