We’ve previously mentioned that our approach to family law is to use mediation when couples are separating, but as it’s Family Mediation Week we wanted to explain what mediation is and how it works in more detail.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process used to help divorcing couples plan their separation constructively. It can also be used to alter arrangements as circumstances change, for example as children grow older.
The role of a mediator is to help you find workable, practical solutions that suit all parties. They won’t tell you what you should and shouldn’t do, nor will they impose solutions or take sides. Instead, they act as a neutral third party, keeping the conversation moving forward, guiding you both and assisting with negotiation until terms can be agreed upon.
Why use mediation?
When you use a mediator, arrangements are tailored for your individual situations. Both parties have their say in a non-confrontational, constructive way. Discussions are free of blame, focussing on the future and preserving your relationship through clear communication, but not attempting to bring about a reconciliation.
Mediation also addresses the emotional needs and uncertainty that can surround the breakdown of a relationship. It can provide a safe and supportive space for you to talk with your ex-partner, but there is no pressure for you to face them if you would prefer not to at any stage.
How is mediation better than going through the divorce courts?
The process is much quicker, more amicable and usually less costly than going through a lengthy and stressful court battle. It puts you in control of your future, as opposed to a judge making decisions for you. Divorcing out of court also protects your privacy and ensures complete confidentiality.
If court is the only option for your case, you will need to prove that mediation has been properly considered and deemed unsuitable. Exemptions include domestic abuse cases.
What does mediation involve?
The process begins with a meeting known as a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (or MIAM) where you discuss what mediation is, how it might help you and the costs involved. After this initial stage, talks will assist you to determine what needs to be agreed upon and a suitable timeframe in which mutually beneficial decisions are to be made. Your mediator can then help you consider all available options. Areas often negotiated by mediation include:
- Childcare arrangements and co-parenting
- Finances including pensions
- Property and housing arrangements
- Dividing up assets
- Jointly owned or managed businesses
Can I get Legal Aid for mediation?
You may be able to receive Legal Aid if:
- The dispute involves a child. You may be eligible for a free voucher worth up to £500
- You are on a low income. Legal Aid may help pay for both parties to attend an introductory meeting (MIAM), one mediation session for both of you, further mediation sessions for the eligible person and help from a solicitor to make your agreement legally binding
How can I find out more?
Give us a call on 0116 340 0094 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your situation and the best way forward.