Should I go to family mediation?
Should I go to family mediation?
Elizabeth Taylor

8 July 2024

There are many reasons why you may be considering family mediation. Perhaps a friend has recommended it or you have heard that you ‘have to go to mediation’ but the chances are that you have a difficult family situation which you are hoping to resolve quickly and cost efficiently.  Here, we will explain what family mediation is (and what it isn’t!), how it could help you and how it compares with the court process.

Who can attend family mediation?

Family mediation is for anyone who has a family problem, usually because of a separation or divorce.  Common topics discussed include financial matters such as short or long term living arrangements, responsibility  for the payment of bills and new routines for children whose parents are not living together any more.  Usually, the participants are a separating couple but it can involve or be for other family members, for example, grandparents.

What is mediation?

In short, it is an opportunity to speak directly to the other participant in a neutral environment with guidance from an independent, trained mediator.  The mediator does not make the decisions for you but will guide the discussions and help to break through any impasses so that you can, together, make the decisions that you believe are best for you and your family.

Unlike the court system, mediation is flexible, allowing you to arrange meetings at your own pace and to fit around your family commitments.  It is usually significantly quicker than litigating through the courts and certainly avoids the potential delays and waiting times at and between court hearings.  Family mediation is also much cheaper than litigation and  usually than when compared with solicitor-led negotiation as well.  As the mediators at Phillips Law have the advantage of being qualified family law solicitors, they will use this expertise by giving you accurate and relevant information about legal processes.

The outcome of family mediation is not a legally binding court order but the agreement may be sufficient for your situation or it can form the basis of an agreed order subsequently obtained from the court ‘by consent,’

Do you ‘have to go to mediation’?

Family mediation is voluntary and nobody can ‘make you’ attend.  At your first meeting you will, by yourself, talk to the mediator about whether mediation is right for you as sometimes, another non-court dispute resolution route, or even court proceedings, will be better suited to your situation.  There are, however, benefits to using family mediation which make it well worth considering.

Before applying for many different types of family court order, you will be required to provide evidence that you have considered family mediation and most applicants need to attend at least the individual “Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting” with a mediator.  If joint mediation is not going to happen, our mediators can provide you with the certificate you need for your court application.

There has been a lot of focus on family mediation in the media recently because of a change in the family court system which places even more emphasis on separating couples trying to resolve their difficulties through non-court dispute resolution (NCDR) routes.  This means that parties to legal disputes may be required to prove that they have considered or tried these NCDR options and even suffer cost penalties if they have not done so.  Family mediation can be used at any time, even partway through court proceedings but as you are likely to be asked to consider it at some point, we recommend you proactively suggest it early on to increase the chances of a quicker and cheaper resolution.

In summary, the benefits of mediation include:

  • An opportunity to resolve family disputes quickly, discreetly and cost-efficiently
  • You have choice and control over the future arrangements for you and your family
  • A neutral environment to speak directly with the other participant
  • Guided discussions with an independent, trained mediator
  • Quicker, cheaper and less stressful than court litigation
  • Flexible; you set the pace and topics to be discussed
  • Avoids potential delays and waiting times of court hearings
  • Voluntary participation
  • Enables you to obtain a MIAM certificate if you have to make an application to the family court.

How do you start the process?

Our family mediators will be happy to speak to you about your personal circumstances before you decide whether to begin mediation so, if you have any questions or would like to attend family mediation, please contact Elizabeth Taylor or Kate Ward on 01256 460830 or email [email protected]

 

 

 

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