The emotional and financial effects of the pandemic have seen an increase in family law disputes. However, even prior to Covid-19, family mediation was fast becoming one of the most attractive ways for separating couples, and others involved in family disputes, in attempting to resolve their issues.
This article highlights the benefits of family mediation as opposed to lengthy negotiations via solicitors or indeed Court proceedings.
What is family mediation?
Family mediation can offer separating couples the opportunity to come together with the aid of a purely impartial mediator to discuss the issues, whether these be in relation to children, property, and finances, or all of these issues.
The mediator ensures that the process is balanced and each party has their say and can be heard and will help the couple examine and consider the issues that may need to be resolved to try and reach mutually acceptable outcomes.
What are the benefits of family mediation?
- Both parties remain in control of what decisions are made for themselves, and, if applicable, their children. Court proceedings, however, could result in the Court making an order that both parties would be bound by, and neither could be entirely happy with.
- Mediation offers a more affordable alternative to resolving the issues. The costs of mediation are generally split between the parties rather than each having to fund their own legal fees if they were to each appoint solicitors.
- Mediation can also provide a much quicker way for the issues to be resolved rather than protracted negotiations via solicitors or Court proceedings which can last for months, or in some cases, even years.
- The informal nature of meditation, and the fact that whatever is discussed in mediation cannot be used in any subsequent Court proceedings, can provide a less stressful platform for the parties to attempt to reach mutually acceptable proposals for themselves and their children.
Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings
Prior to the mediation commencing, each party is invited to an individual meeting. This meeting is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
At the MIAM, the mediator will explain the process to each party and also remind them it is a completely voluntary process. The voluntary nature of mediation is also important as it means that even once mediation has commenced, at any time if they feel the process is not working or they simply feel they cannot continue, either party can withdraw at any point.
Once each party has had their MIAM, if the couple, and also the mediator, are happy to proceed then mediation can commence.
What happens during the mediation process?
During the course of mediation, the mediator will use their skills to ensure that issues are clearly identified, and also make sure that both parties are heard and have the opportunity to explore options they wish to put forward.
The overall aim and objective of the process are to then arrive at a set of agreed and mutually acceptable proposals which resolve the issues. Any proposals reached are then recorded by the mediator in writing with each party provided with an identical copy of what has been agreed. This is called a Memorandum of Understanding.
On average, mediation lasts for somewhere between three and five sessions, depending on the number of issues involved, and if some proposals need to be tried and tested and then reviewed at further sessions, such as arrangements for children that may need a trial period. However, the time it takes for mediation to conclude from start to finish is significantly quicker than the far more costly alternative of Court proceedings.
Separation is a daunting prospect for so many people. There is uncertainty about the future and what will happen financially and concerns about the impact on the children. However, mediation is a way in which these fears and concerns can be discussed and managed effectively to provide clarity and assurances for all those involved.
How can Nelsons help?
Should family mediation be a process that you feel could assist you to resolve outstanding issues between you and your former spouse or partner, or should you wish to find out more about the process, then please contact us and we will be happy to discuss your circumstances in more detail and give you more information about the services that our family law solicitors can provide along with details of our hourly rates and fixed fee services.Contact Us