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Family Mediation Week

View profile for Stephanie McAulay
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This Family Mediation Week 17 -21 January 2022 we are raising awareness of family mediation and its benefits to separating families.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a structured, interactive process where an impartial third party assists parties in resolving conflict out of the court arena.

Locally, Stepping Stones Family Mediation say “many people prefer to negotiate their own arrangements with the assistance of a family mediator rather than putting their decisions in the hands of the courts.”

Again, Crowther Mediation say mediation is “where disputes end and conversations start.”

Tees Valley Mediation say mediators “do not take sides and will make sure you get chance to have your say.”

What does mediation cover?

  1. Difficulties with residence, contact or child support.
  2. Difficulties with property division or debts.
  3. Difficulties with the financial consequences of your divorce.

What can mediators not do?

Mediators cannot offer legal advice. Legal advice before and during the process can help. 

What is expected of me?

It is beneficial and you will achieve more out of the sessions if you are committed, accountable and open-minded.  You ought to be willing to fully engage and compromise with the other party, rather than concentrate on what has happened in the past, therefore, to look forward to resolve matters.

Is mediation legally binding?

Any arrangement reached during the mediation process could be recorded in a Memorandum of Understanding. This document however is not legally binding, ie you cannot make an application to court to enforce any clauses contained within the Memorandum if the other side did not adhere to the agreed arrangements.

Can I refuse to mediate?

Mediation is an entirely voluntary process.

In most cases, it is a legal requirement to consider mediation before you can ask a court to make a decision on your case.

Mediators can help you decide if mediation is the right process for you during a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

How many mediation sessions does it take?

Mediation starts with a meeting between the mediator and each party separately. This is usually followed by a number of sessions with the parties either together or separately. Each session usually lasts between 1 – 2 hours. Most issues are resolved in three to four 90-minute meetings.

Who pays for mediation?

A MIAM costs approximately £100 per person, per hour. A mediation session can be in the region of £100 - £140 per person, per hour. Drafting a Memorandum of Understanding may cost £120.

What are the benefits of mediation?

  1. Improves communication.
  2. It minimises conflict.
  3. Ensures future arrangements are tailored to suit the needs of your own particular family.
  4. You make your own decisions.
  5. You are in control of the outcome.
  6. It is confidential. The discussions that take place are private. This helps you to explore more openly all of the options that may be available to you.
  7. It can be up to four cheaper than the average court case.
  8. It can be a quicker process than court proceedings.
  9. It can be convenient as the mediator can meet you on daytimes or evenings, including weekends and online appointments.
  10. Assists with a working relationship going forwards.

 

Can my children be involved in the process?

Yes, if you and your child agree to it.

When is mediation not recommended?

Mediation will not be appropriate if:

  1. There are issues of harm concerning your child or you have experienced domestic violence.
  2. You do not know where the other party is and cannot contact them.

Mediators can help you decide if mediation is the right process for you during a Mediation Assessment (MIAM).

What happens next?

If mediation proves to be unsuccessful or deemed inappropriate an application can be made to court. The court would require a copy of the mediation certificate which is valid for 4 months.

However, if mediation proves to be successful, the terms contained in a Memorandum of Understanding can form the basis of an application for an order by consent in order to make it legally binding and enforceable via the court.

Get in touch

The mediation providers are happy to accept referrals either directly or via solicitors or other professionals. Here in the Private Family Law Team at Tilly Bailey & Irvine each lawyer is a member of Resolution which is an organisation that promotes a non-adversarial approach. If matters can be resolved out of court, thereby reducing animosity and costs then we absolutely want you to consider alternative means of dispute resolution such as mediation if possible. It is always sensible, however, to take legal advice to explore options and once you have a Memorandum of Understanding, the mediators will advise you to take legal advice to ensure that the terms can be enforceable if to be incorporated in to a formal order.

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