What is Mediation and why is it important?
Mediation offers an initial process to resolving a dispute or to make arrangements before having to enter the courts. This will allow for a discussion to take place within a neutral environment, with the presence of a third person. This third person is known as a mediator and is trained to guide both parties through negotiations. Often, they will suggest ways to move the conversation forward, avoiding conflict, however they can not offer legal advice. For this you will require the assistance of a solicitor. Often in family law cases which require negotiations regarding children, I will encourage the use of mediation or collaborative meetings. This usually works to make decisions and keep the child’s best interests in mind. However, where mediation does not resolve issues, with my experience in family law, I can guide you through legal proceedings.
Mediation in Family Law
Mediation can be used in a number of family situations. Either to address the arrangements for children during divorce or separation processes, or to make financial decisions regarding shared property and assets. In these cases, mediation works best when all relevant parties agree discussions are necessary to achieve an end goal. Although mediation is a voluntary process, some family law courts would like to see proof that an initial mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) was attended by both parties before going ahead with legal proceedings. An MIAM is an initial meeting to explain what mediation is and how it could work for your individual circumstances.
The benefits of Mediation
As many will be aware, legal proceedings can become costly. So, to avoid these large costs, mediation is often favoured. The mediation process is also much quicker than going to court, if this works for both parties. In most cases, particularly within family law, the courts are in favour of mediation. Some of the other benefits of mediation include:
Greater control over the outcome of your situation. Although mediation does not guarantee a final outcome, and for some mediation does not work. With the ability to discuss and resolve issues together with the help of a mediator guiding conversation, an outcome can be decided which is not forced nor agreed upon without both parties consenting. Once in court you will have much less control over the final decision.
For children involved in your family dispute or separation, mediation will have much less impact upon their mental wellbeing than court proceedings would, as they will avoid being caught in the middle of your divorce. Your children will benefit from being able to see parents cooperating and discussing matters.
Mediation is a confidential process which will allow you to discuss matters in private. When it comes to legal proceedings you will not be legally tied to any decisions that were discussed during mediation if this did not work. In order for decisions within mediation to become legally binding, a consent order must be drawn up by a solicitor. This will set out what you have agreed during mediation and will be sent to a judge to approve.
Mediation helps to savour your relationships. Courts and legal proceedings can often add an additional strain onto the relationship. Within family law, mediation has worked to maintain a generally good relationship between two parties, avoiding major conflict and stress.
Support of a mediator. A mediator is a trained individual able to offer you support through the process of mediation. Working towards achieving an outcome with is accepted by both sides. A mediator will be able to listen to all points of view, talk to each party (either individually or together), guiding discussions to an end point.