What is Family Mediation?
Mediation is not an alternative to legal advice, nor a marriage guidance service. It does not help you to save a relationship but it can help you to make separation and divorce easier. This is achieved by allowing you and your partner to take control of the process and work things out together, hopefully without needing to go to Court.
How does it work?
From April 2011 it became a requirement (in most cases) that before applying to the Court for an Order in respect of children or finances that the separated/separating spouses must try mediation by attending a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Mediation only works with the consent and involvement of both spouses. If the Mediator considers mediation is suitable you will be asked to complete a form called an Agreement to Mediate. At the end of the mediation you will be given a summary of the proposals or provisional arrangements that have been worked out.
Mediators can be but do not need to be a solicitor. Their role is totally impartial, the mediator is there to assist you both jointly by offering structure to your discussion and helpful legal information where requested. By assisting your discussion, the mediator helps you to reach a lasting settlement which is fair to both of you and agreed by both of you. You make all the decisions together which speeds up the process of resolving conflict and, if successful, is much cheaper than arguing your case in Court. It is hard work, but it is much less upsetting than going to Court. In many ways it is a modern approach to settling your differences.
It is important for you to have legal advice before and during mediation. Once you reach the outline of a settlement, you will be advised to see a solicitor to ensure that the settlement is fair and reasonable and to assist you to finalise the issue without any delay.