A Guide to Family Mediation

January 21, 2022

What is family mediation?

Family Mediation is where an independent and qualified mediator is appointed to act as the middle person to resolve disputes between two parties in relation to children, assets and finances in cases of separation, divorce and between unmarried parents. Mediation is available to all types of families, from those who are married or in a civil partnership to people who are not married but have children together.

The ultimate benefit of using a mediator is to try to keep your matter out of court and to give you ownership over how matters are resolved, rather than have your situation determined by a judge. Not only does this save both parties legal fees that could be significant, it also paves the way for dealing with matters in a more collaborative and constructive way.

The mediation process

When using a mediator, that person maintains control over conversations. No party is able to steer or dominate discussions, meaning both sides are heard fairly and equally. The mediator will be able to clearly explain what steps need to be taken and to help find a solution.

There are two routes for mediation:

  • With a lawyer – both parties will sit in a room together (or in separate rooms if preferred) with their legal representatives and the mediator will be in the same room or shuttle between the two to try and effect a settlement. This usually takes place over the course of a day (or longer if required) and everyone is focused on trying to resolve the matter;
  • Without a lawyer – where the parties will meet with the mediator on several occasions for one to one meetings with a view to an agreement being made during or after these sessions (possibly after the parties have referred to their lawyers for advice on the proposed agreement).

By choosing the mediation route, not only are costs usually much lower, the matter tends to be resolved much quicker than in court and often with significantly less stress.

What does the mediator do?

The mediator is there to help parties reach an amicable and fair conclusion. The mediator is not there to offer legal advice nor to tell you what do to.

Mediation is often used in cases involving children. Parents, whether separated or not, know what is best for their children but may have differing views on a point. The mediator is there to help find a solution and perhaps a compromise that works best for everyone, most importantly the children.

Mediation can also be useful in trying to repair the lines of communication or mistrust that may have occurred during separation.

Does legal advice help during family mediation?

Deciding to end a marriage isn’t easy and in most cases both parties want things resolved as quickly and peacefully as possible.

It is best to consult a lawyer early on in the process and refer to him or her as you wish, throughout. Your lawyer can front the negotiations and speak on your behalf during mediation, or you may wish to conduct the mediation yourself but refer to your lawyer at each stage to get advice.

If you would like any advice on any family matters, please get in touch with our team to discuss more.

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