What is family mediation?
Family mediation is an approach to settling family disputes and reaching an agreement on issues such as property, finance and parenting, after you’ve decided to separate.
Communication after separation can be tough and family mediators are skilled at helping you navigate through the practical and technical things you have to consider, even when feelings are running high and cooperation is the last thing you expect from your ex.
Mediation is voluntary. You both have to agree to attend. It is not about trying to keep couples together, but helping them move on to the next stages of their lives. It is far easier to do this if you have had a good separation.
What does it involve?
The process typically involves the couple attending a series of face to face meetings in the presence of a professional, trained mediator, who facilitates the discussion. National Family Mediation’s experienced professionals can help you settle your legal, financial, emotional and practical issues arising from your divorce or separation.
Why family mediation?
• It is much quicker, less stressful and usually cheaper than heading straight to court
• It enables you to shape long-term solutions that are in your family’s best interests
• It allows families to keep control of their own destinies, shaping settlements over parenting, money and property, instead of handing it over to courts
Children can also be involved, if appropriate, in helping shape the way their lives pan out after their parents have separated.
It’s worth noting that family mediation does not totally eliminate the need for solicitors. In fact mediation can work best where each party has the back-up of a solicitor to provide advice between mediation sessions. When agreement is reached a solicitor will be able to put it into a binding legal document called a Consent Order. The Consent Order will then need to be ratified by a family court.
Mediation is flexible and confidential. It gives you and your ex a way to settle your conflict in a way that helps you to work together as parents after your divorce. That’s why it can be the best way forward after a divorce or separation especially where children are involved.
The first step is to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. This gives you an opportunity to find out what mediation is about, find out if it is suitable for you and your circumstances and look at the issues you have to consider to achieve divorce or separation before taking part in full mediation .
If you and the mediator decide to continue with mediation, then a further session will be organised. The mediator is neutral during the process. The mediator’s job is to make you aware of the things you each need to do to achieve a legal separation and help you to gather the information, facilitate the discussions, help you develop options and solutions.
Mediators cannot give advice or act as a lawyer for either party. Mediation is both confidential and “privileged” this means you are free to exchange information and ideas without the constraints of fearing these ideas may be used against you at a later date.. Because both people are working with the same base of information, it takes far less time to negotiate a resolution that makes sense to you both of them.
How many mediation sessions will I need?
There is no hard-and-fast rule about how many mediation sessions are needed before a settlement is reached, because each case is very different. Typically, however, couples will find they attend between three and five sessions before the process concludes.
The length of the process is also shaped by the nature of the issues being mediated. For example, an ‘All Issues Mediation’ case – one involving sorting out property, finance and parenting arrangements – will tend to be more complex than one in which only the finances or children need to be mediated.
What if there are still disagreements?
Mediation can stall or breakdown where there is a material disagreement over the facts, for example where one person believes his or her ex has not made a full and frank disclosure about their assets. For this reason couples undergoing mediation are required to complete the full disclosure process using the relevant paperwork. The financial disclosure made in mediation is not covered by “privilege” and can be used at a later date in court if needed.
However, your mediator is there to help. if you believe that there is undisclosed information or you think they are taking our ex’s side, let them know.
Divorce Club cannot stress enough the value of mediation so we hope that you seek help from this wonderful organisation.
Please read some examples of the work they have done here.