Family mediation is a more cost effective and less litigious alternative to pursuing matters through the family court. The aim of mediation is to build a workable system of communication between parties following separation.
- It tries to help them agree on how to move forward with the fundamental issues in their lives such as matters concerning the children, finances and property to name but a few.
- Allowing for the separating parties to have a safe place to try and resolve their differences at their own pace, with the help of the mediator.
- It also enables the parties an opportunity to speak directly to each other and explain their concerns/worries and needs for the future. Enabling both parties to have their say in the presence of the mediator.
- Mediation will recognise that the parents are always the best people to make decisions about their own children and it allows them to make decisions for the family’s future rather than an outsider.
Parties are always encouraged to try mediation before considering any court applications. Indeed now, before issuing any court proceedings, parties have to start with mediation, if appropriate. Of course, in some cases, mediation will not be always be the appropriate way forward.
There are 4 principles to mediation
- Mediation is a voluntary process. Both parties have to agree to mediate but no one can be forced to mediate. As mentioned above, the courts now expect families to attempt mediation before any court proceedings are entered in to.
- The mediation process is confidential with only two very limited exceptions (one involves financial disclosure where a court can order financial information is provided from mediation to use for the purposes of any judgement. Secondly, where a mediator is concerned that a child is at risk of serious harm and has a duty to report to the local authority). Any proposals put forward at mediation cannot be referred to in any subsequent legal proceedings.
- All mediators have to be impartial. They are not there to take sides and have to act in the interests of both parties equally. Their role is to encourage the parties to talk and for the other to listen. To see if there is a way they can come together to reach an agreement. The mediator cannot give legal advice during the process but can give generic legal information, if required, if the mediator is legally trained.
- It is down to the parties to make their own decisions. The role of the mediator is merely there to help, guide and facilitate effective communication between the parties. So that they can reach agreements that make sense in their own personal circumstances. Any agreements that are reached in the mediation process only become legally binding if an Order of the Court is then produced. Setting out the agreement by the parties’ respective solicitors and is then approved by the Court.
It’s never too late
Finally, always remember, it is never too late to mediate. Even if you are in the middle of court proceedings, you can always agree to consider the mediation process. To help with any sticking points or actual discussions between you.
Mediation is not about enforcing rights or vindicating the other person. It is about trying to sit down and have a practical conversation that is focused on both parties and the children’s futures.
Get in touch
It is always important to seek advice from an experienced family law specialist to discuss your circumstances and consider the different options available to you.
If you wish to speak to any of the family law team about family mediation, or anything else, then please get in touch. Either call us on 01323 727321 to arrange an appointment or please fill in the form below and someone will get in touch.
Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary. It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.