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What Exactly is Mediation?

View profile for Laura Martin-Read
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Today National Family Mediation Week draws to a close. Here at Family Law Group we have a team of mediators offering mediation services across our offices, along with solicitors who can guide and advise you on the mediation process. But what exactly is mediation?

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), so an alternative to Court.

It's generally considered a more amicable way for couples who are separating to resolve matters, including financial disputes and arrangements for children. For couples who want to avoid acrimony and those who want to successfully co-parent after a separation, mediation is ideal.

Mediation involves both parties meeting with an independent third party mediator, whose role is to be impartial and neutral. They will assist parties to talk through the issues that need resolving.

For children disputes a mediator can assist parents to agree the arrangements for their children, including where they should live and other more discrete issues, such as school choices for example. 

For financial disputes, a mediator can assist parties to a divorce in openly exchanging financial information, to enable negotiations to take place. A mediator can facilitate the parties putting forward proposals and in most cases, reaching a financial settlement.  For unmarried couples, mediators can assist with property disputes and other financial arrangements too.

Our mediators are experienced in dealing with a whole range of family issues in a calm and amicable manner. Sometimes mediation can involve solicitors attending with the parties (provided both parties have solicitors).  Even if mediation seems impossible due to a hostile relationship, there are options such as shuttle mediation where the parties sit in separate rooms and the mediator will go between the parties. 

Legal advice alongside mediation goes hand in hand, particularly in financial cases. Our specialist divorce/finance solicitors can advise you about the mediation process and guide you through the negotiation stages and settlement proposals while you attend mediation with your former partner. If an agreement is reached through mediation, a solicitor will need to assist in drafting a Consent Order to make that agreement legally binding. 

If things are proving difficult to agree and it seems a Court application may be necessary for your children arrangements or your financial arrangements arising from your divorce, mediation is a pre-requisite to a Court application. This means mediation must be attempted first, except where certain exemptions apply (such as domestic abuse or urgency). In many cases, mediation is both a requirement and a suitable option.

If you want more information about mediation, please contact any of our offices to book a meeting with a solicitor to discuss if mediation is suitable for your case or to book a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with a mediator to get things started.

For more information on the mediation process, visit our website, call 0115 945 4555 or email mail@familylawgroup.co.uk

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