Our partner Anthony Gold Solicitors share some insight on mediation – a voluntary, confidential out of court process that helps you reach negotiated solutions to disputes about arrangements for children and/or finances.
How mediation can help preserve your relationship after separation
Family mediation is a voluntary, confidential out of court process that helps you reach negotiated solutions to disputes about arrangements for children and/or finances. The process brings both parties together with a mediator in a “safe space” where matters can be discussed freely and in a relaxed atmosphere. However, since the pandemic this is often conducted via zoom.
The process is effective because the mediator will ensure that you listen to what the other party is saying. You do not necessarily have to agree, but it certainly helps when you understand what the issues are. The mediator will usually fix an agenda and facilitate problem solving all the issues so that a fair and workable outcome is achieved.
Role of the mediator
While mediators can provide key information about what the law is, they cannot provide legal advice specific to your situation. Although not mandatory, it can be very important for parties to have the benefit of independent legal advice as they go through the mediation process to aid understanding.
Another advantage of mediation is that the parties can agree to bring in the expertise of a specialist to help resolve issues. This might be bringing in a pensions expert to work out what the best way to reschedule pension investments or an independent financial advisor who can help you fix budgets. Other experts can include divorce coaches and therapists where one or both parties are finding the emotional side of separation particularly challenging.
Costs and time
The costs of mediation are significantly less than the costs of a contested court process, even if you use a solicitor to support you throughout. The length of the process varies depending on how complex the issues are. It is not uncommon for matters involving children and finances to be resolved in two to four sessions, which might be spread over a two to three-month period. This compares very favourably with a fully contested court process, which can often take 12-18 months.
Mediators are trained to deal with an imbalance in bargaining power or skills. However, cases with relevant safeguarding and domestic abuse issues may not be suitable for mediation. This can be evaluated by a mediator before the process starts at the initial meeting which is called a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting, (“MIAM”). The primary aim of a MIAM is to provide essential information and to have a discussion separately and confidentially with each participant to ensure that the process is understood. The mediator will assess whether mediation is suitable for the particular circumstances and report back to the parties.
Research shows high success rates for mediation and that the vast majority of participants are happy with the outcomes and the process. It is also often reported that it helps preserve relationships after separation, which is particularly important to parents.
If you would like more information about mediation please contact Michelle Howarth at email@example.com.
Anthony Gold Solicitors are offering Clapham Mums a free 20 minute consultation.