When a relationship breaks down, the involvement of the Court can often increase animosity between those involved and prolong the process. The Court process can also be extremely expensive.
Consequently, wherever possible, we encourage our clients to avoid Court proceedings, treating them as last resort and encouraging people to resolve matters between themselves or with the support of other mediums.
We aim to provide individual, tailored methods, appropriate to help resolve our client's specific issues. The objective is always to minimise any stress and collateral damage involved, enabling our clients to move forward with their lives.
What is mediation?
Family mediation is a voluntary and confidential process which helps joint decision making without making use of the Courts. Family mediation helps couples, whether married or not, to discuss and resolve any issues connected with their separation or divorce in a thoughtful and cooperative way.
Mediation aims to improve communication and reduce bitterness between the parties. Mediators are trained to help people resolve disputes and they do not give legal advice. The mediator will meet with you and your partner (this can be separately) and identify those issues you cannot agree on and help you to try and reach agreement. Each mediator is neutral and will not take sides in any dispute. They will not give advice to you on your individual legal positions and will usually recommend that you each obtain legal advice separately and in conjunction with partaking in the mediation process.
How much does mediation cost?
Mediation may be free for you if you are eligible under the Community Legal Services Fund (formerly Legal Aid). If you are not eligible under this fund, then each mediation service sets out its fees. The normal rate is approximately £150 per hour plus VAT. However, some services operate a sliding scale based on your income.
Will the mediator try to get us back together?
No, mediation is about dealing with/managing the consequences of a relationship breakdown by concentrating on the future and helping set up practical and legal arrangements involved with moving forward.
What will be discussed at mediation?
The subjects that you might want to discuss could include:
- Whether divorce proceedings are appropriate and how best to move forward with the relationship;
- Arrangements for the children such as where they live and their level of contact with the non-resident parent;
- What are you going to say to the children about the relationship breakdown; and
- What will happen to the matrimonial home and what future accommodation/financial support will be required for the family.
What is a MIAM?
MIAM is short for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. Since 6 April 2011, anyone who makes an application to the Court to resolve a dispute about finances, or arrangements for the children, will be asked to attend a family MIAM before they are able to commence Court proceedings.
Are solicitors involved in the mediation process?
You do not have to attend mediation with a solicitor. However, you may find it helpful to take independent legal advice before, during and after the mediation process, to make sure you attend fully prepared and that any agreement you reach is in your best interests and provides a fair result for you.
You may also need a solicitor to arrange for an Order to be prepared on your behalf, setting out any agreement that you reach. Our team would be happy to advise at any stage the mediation process.
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