Is family mediation about persuading you to stay together or relationship counselling?
No. The aim of mediation is not to stop couples splitting up. Most couples who come to mediation are facing a separation or divorce and want to avoid a long and bitter battle that ends up in court.
Mediators believe that relationships should be brought to an end in a way that –
• Minimises distress to the participants and to any children;
• Promotes as good a relationship between the participants and any children as is possible;
• Removes or diminishes any risk of abuse to any of the participants or children from the other participants; and
• Avoids any unnecessary cost to the participants.”
Mediation is a good non-court dispute resolution process to help family members to resolve issues arising from their separation. Most frequently the disputes are about the arrangements for children, the finances and, for married couples, the divorce. All family issues can be mediated including civil partnership, unmarried relationship breakdown and grandparent contact.
Will the mediator make a decision?
No. decision making rests entirely with the participants to the mediation. This means that the mediator will help you to enter into your own agreements, empowering you to remain in control of your choices and exploring all available options.
Is family mediation confidential?
Yes, it is private except in certain circumstances, for example if a person is at risk of serious harm or to prevent money laundering. The confidential nature of mediation enables both parties to explore all the options for reaching agreement and to test them out in a safe, neutral and informed environment.
Do I need a solicitor?
it is preferable to instruct your own specialist family solicitor to advise you during the mediation process because the mediator is impartial and cannot give advice to either party. However, the mediator can give information to both people and, therefore, it is helpful to choose a mediator who is also an experienced family lawyer.
Will I be forced to go to family mediation?
No, mediation is a voluntary process at all times. However, the Government has introduced the ‘MIAM’ (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). This is a meeting with each person separately to assess the suitability of mediation. A party who wishes to issue a court application in relation to disagreements over children and/or financial matters has to attend a MIAM before they can issue. Only an accredited mediator can sign the court application form to confirm that an applicant has attended a MIAM. It is therefore important to ensure that your mediator is accredited if you wish to issue a court application.
How long does it take and how much does it cost?
Agreements can be reached quickly in mediation. Each family mediation session usually last for up to 2 hours and most people need 2 to 4 session to resolve their issues. Usually this is much quicker than going to court. Although it is an informal process, the use of time in each session is structured, agreed and planned so that you can focus on the issues and concentrate on priorities. The mediator’s hour rate is usually shared equally between the parties, so it is a very cost effective solution. Legal Aid is available for family mediation, if you qualify.
What are the main advantage of family mediation?
In addition to the cost and time savings, mediation “aims to assist participants to communicate with one another now and in the future and to reduce the scope or intensity of dispute and conflict within the family”, as stated in the Family Mediation Council’s Code of Practice 2010.
Mediation is likely to help because:-
- Mediation helps separated couples to work out agreements and avoid fighting each other in court;
- It helps parents co-operate over their children and discuss the children’s needs and concerns;
- Mediation helps both parties to understand the financial position of both parties by obtaining full financial disclosure and working out a financial settlement based upon fairness, needs and individual circumstances;
- Accredited mediators who are also experienced family solicitors can provide a great deal of information about the legal processes involved in separation and divorce and they have up to date knowledge and experience of the law and the legal system;
- Mediation is highly likely to reduce the cost of separating, compared to going to court;
- The mediator keeps discussions focussed and on track and helps to make the atmosphere as civilised and constructive as possible. The discussions are informal and each person has an equal opportunity to explain priorities and concerns.
To find out more about family mediation please contact: -
Elaine Richardson FMCA
Accredited family mediator
Consultant family solicitor and collaborative lawyer
The Berkson Globe Partnership,
2nd Floor Granite Building,
6 Stanley Street,
Liverpool L1 6AF Tel: 0151 236 1234 email@example.com