Going through a divorce or civil partnership dissolution can be incredibly stressful for all involved. Family mediation enables you to resolve the issues arising from your separation without adding the increased pressure of lengthy, drawn-out Court hearings.

Our expert family law solicitors have vast experience in family mediation. They will advise whether the process is suitable in your case and explain how it can help you resolve your issues quickly and cost-effectively.

Please call us now on 01603 672222 for a no-obligation conversation today or Click Here To Make An Online Enquiry.

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What Is Family Mediation?

Family mediation involves an impartial third party, the mediator, working with the couple to find mutually acceptable solutions to the issues that need to be resolved following their separation. Examples of the types of issues that couples regularly address at family mediation include financial matters, child arrangements, and what should happen to the marital home.

Mediators are highly trained professionals who specialise in working with separating couples. Some mediators have a background in family law, while others may have experience in social work, counselling or education. You and your ex-partner are free to choose the mediator whose experience is best suited to your circumstances, and our family law team will help you to make the right choice.

A fundamental principle of family mediation is that it is a voluntary process. You cannot be forced to attend a mediation. However, save in exceptional cases, such as those involving domestic abuse, you are legally obliged to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, more commonly known as an MIAM, before making an application to Court. MIAMs are designed to assist the parties in establishing whether mediation might help resolve their issues and enable a mediator to assess the case’s suitability for the process.

How Does Family Mediation Work?

Family mediations are tailored to each couple’s individual needs and the issues they wish to resolve. However, as a general guide, the process usually proceeds as follows:

  • You and your ex-partner meet separately with the mediator. During this meeting, you can learn more about the process and discuss any specific concerns you have regarding your separation.
  • You and your ex-partner attend a series of joint meetings with the mediator. The mediator will set an agenda at the start of each meeting outlining the issues to be addressed and will then help you to reach an agreeable solution to those issues. Joint mediation meetings tend to last around 90 minutes each, and you can seek advice from your solicitor between the meetings.
  • At the conclusion of the process, your mediator will prepare a document known as a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ that states what the parties have agreed. Your family law solicitor will then review and advise on the effects of your agreement.

If you wish to attempt mediation but do not want to sit with your ex-partner and require greater legal support during the process, our family law solicitors may advise that you use ‘hybrid mediation’. In a hybrid mediation, the parties’ legal representatives are present throughout, and the couple can sit in separate rooms, with the mediator shuttling between them. Hybrid mediation does not benefit from the transparency and trust that are the hallmarks of traditional mediation but can be a good choice in particularly complex cases or those involving significant conflict.

What Are The Benefits Of Family Mediation?

Family mediation offers several key benefits, including the following:

  • The parties regain control of the process. You can choose the time and date of the meetings and select a mediator you feel comfortable with. When pursuing Court proceedings, the timetable is out of your hands, and you will be allocated a Judge.
  • The parties can reach an outcome that suits them and aligns with their family’s needs.
  • Mediation is less stressful than litigation. Most family mediators operate within an informal, relaxed setting, and the format of the meetings is far less formal than Court hearings.
  • Mediation is flexible. The agreements you reach can be altered and amended as your situations change.
  • Mediation is quicker and cheaper than litigation. You can save on legal fees and get on with rebuilding your lives as quickly as possible.
  • Mediation is more amicable than Court proceedings. This often makes it easier on children and lessens any negative impact your separation has on them.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Mediation?

Whilst the benefits of family mediation usually outweigh any drawbacks, there are a few potential disadvantages, which include the following:

  • Mediation depends on honesty and transparency between the parties. This can be a significant hurdle to a successful outcome, particularly if one party suspects the other is hiding pertinent information, such as details of their true financial situation.
  • Unlike litigation, the outcome of a mediation is not legally enforceable. However, this drawback can be overcome by the parties’ legal advisors converting the agreement into a binding Court order.
  • Mediation may not succeed in resolving the issues and the parties may need to seek the Court’s intervention. However, even where this is the case, the process often enables the parties to reduce the issues in contention and leads to a swifter, more focused Court hearing.
  • Mediation may not be suitable when there is a significant imbalance of power between the parties. Your mediator will assess the suitability of your case for mediation before you begin. If the nature of the parties’ relationship is such that an around the table meeting may not be appropriate, other alternative dispute resolution methods, such as the hybrid mediation model, may still be an option.

How We Can Help

Our family law solicitors always seek to identify the quickest, most cost-effective and least acrimonious form of dispute resolution available in the circumstances. They will discuss the possibility of family mediation with you and help you decide whether it is likely to yield results in your case. If you choose to proceed with mediation, they will guide you through the process, suggest possible solutions to the issues raised, and be on hand to give practical advice on the effects of any proposed agreement. Once they are happy that the outcome is fair and reasonable for you and your family, they will prepare and lodge any paperwork with the Court to make your agreement legally binding where necessary.

Please call us now on 01603 672222 for a no-obligation conversation today or Click Here To Make An Online Enquiry.

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