What is Family Mediation?
Family Mediation is a voluntary process, where separating or divorced couples come together to have a discussion – not an argument – about their future arrangements in a safe, well-ordered and professional environment.
Whilst I will guide you through the process and might ask you to consider some possible options, mediation is completely impartial. I am not here to take sides or make decisions for you, but to help both of you resolve the issues and make your own arrangements for your future.
Mediation does not replace legal advice and you are separately encouraged to ask a solicitor to look at any agreement reached at mediation to get his/her legal opinion.
Mediation is also a confidential process, which means you are free to discuss and explore all options, safe in the knowledge that if mediation does not work, the court is not entitled to hear about the discussions that took place, so that they won’t prejudice any future legal proceedings. The only exception to this involves financial disclosure, where the courts are able to call on information provided during mediation and use it to form a judgment.
Mediation does work! Even the most intractable arguments can be resolved with the right encouragement and 85% of couples who attend mediation with an open mind reach agreement without going to court.
In order to decide if mediation is suitable for you, each party is invited to attend a consultation on their own. During this meeting, I will explain fully the mediation process and what you can expect. You will also have an opportunity to tell me a little about the issues you want to discuss and ask any questions you may have.
Who do we help?
- Separating couples, with or without children – married or unmarried
- Same-sex couples, whether or not in a marriage or civil partnership
- Children who are struggling to come to terms with their parents’ separation and may be finding it difficult to get on with their parents
- Members of the extended family, e.g. grandparents, who may be finding it difficult to see their grandchildren
What may be discussed?
- How property, pensions, other financial assets and debts are to be divided up and where both parties will live following divorce
- Where the children will live when parents separate
- How the children will share their time between their parents, including holidays
- How much children will see of members of their extended family – grandparents, cousins etc
- How parents will communicate with one another in the future about their children
- How to formalize any agreements in a Separation Deed or in a Consent Order to form the basis of a divorce agreement
Is Mediation legally binding?
The arrangements you make through mediation are not legally binding. At the end of the mediation process the mediator will prepare a written Memorandum of Understanding detailing the arrangements you have agreed. In financial cases this Memorandum can be presented to your solicitor who will then draft a legally binding agreement, which can be approved by the courts without you having to attend.
In children cases, it is not possible to have a legally binding agreement through mediation. However, research shows that child arrangements reached through discussion in mediation last longer than orders imposed by a judge. It is now firmly believed by the judicial system that children should not be the subject of court orders wherever possible.