Mediation is a voluntary process which is highly encouraged by family lawyers alike and in fact, a referral to a mediator is compulsory (save for a few exceptions) prior to embarking upon any Court application.
The process provides for a supported, flexible and confidential forum where the mediator will facilitate the discussions between the parties.
Mediation is particularly helpful when communication may be fraught. The mediator is trained to assist you in identifying the key issues and will work towards encouraging you to narrow the issues or find a solution.
If you are not comfortable with being in the same room as the other party, then a mediator can arrange ‘shuttle’ mediation. This is where the mediator will speak to you both separately setting out each other’s proposals.
- More control over what decisions are made in relation to the children and finances rather than applying to the Court
- Provides for a less stressful way of dealing with sensitive issues at a difficult time by way of a controlled environment
- Allows for a precise arrangement and an agreement to be drawn for clarity on future arrangements
- Can provide a quicker and cheaper way to resolve matters.
- One person may refuse to attend meaning it cannot go ahead
- There is no guaranteed outcome if you are unable to reach an agreement
- You will still require legal advice to formalise any agreement reached.
What to expect
An initial meeting will be arranged separately from the other party for the mediator to determine whether the process is suitable.
The mediator will facilitate discussions. They will not take sides and must act impartially, and you can take comfort in the fact that anything discussed within mediation cannot be disclosed to the Court unless both parties’ consent to it.
How long the process will take will depend on the complexity of issues, but it is important to note that a party can stop mediation at any time should they feel it is no longer suitable.
Any agreement will be included in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’.
As highlighted above, agreements made during mediation are not legally binding and therefore you would need to take subsequent legal advice to ensure that it is formally dealt with.
For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you to talk through your options and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.