As well as speaking to our family solicitors regarding a separation or breakup, you can also take advantage of our mediation service, aimed at helping you and your partner come to a resolution about your financial arrangements, and the living arrangements of any children affected by the breakup.
At what point would a family solicitor or divorce solicitor recommend that I consider mediation?
This may be recommended to you at any point during your case but usually our family solicitors talk to their clients about mediation at the very start of the process. You do not need a divorce solicitor’s referral to use mediation. You can self-refer. Our mediator will contact the other party to see whether he/she wants to come to a mediation session.
What actually happens during mediation?
You and your spouse/partner will meet, together with a professional mediator. Initially the mediator will then guide you through a series of questions aimed at finding out about both of you and your material circumstances, including such things as shared property, cash or other assets, and any children involved. Then each aspect will be discussed in turn, with a view to reaching a resolution on each issue.
Where there is no obvious resolution on a particular aspect, the mediator’s role is to keep communication open and suggest alternatives, where possible, with a view to finding a solution that is agreeable to both sides.
The mediator is also available to help clarify any points of law which may be relevant to the discussions, so that both of you are fully aware of the legal implications of any decisions reached.
When a resolution has been reached, the mediator can prepare a memorandum summarising everything that has been discussed. This document can then be used by a family solicitor to prepare any necessary papers for formal proceedings if required.
What is the difference between mediation and counselling?
Counselling aims to deal with the emotional issues surrounding your divorce or separation. The goals of mediation are different – to help you reach a resolution about concrete issues such as division of assets, children’s living arrangements and so forth.
Where there seems to be a need for other types of support – perhaps emotional or financial – your solicitor should be able to put you in touch with a range of other organisations that specialise in these issues.
It would be great to get everything agreed, but don’t think my partner would agree to a meeting with me – can mediation still help?
We have the facilities to speak to you in separate rooms if you wish. This can often be helpful in allowing both parties to focus on reaching a resolution without the extra stress of an emotional encounter. This allows you to speak frankly to the mediator, and for you to consider options you may not feel comfortable about discussing in front of your partner.
I really want to make sure that our children’s wishes and best interests are properly considered, but they are finding it difficult to tell us what they want. Can mediation help them?
Yes, our mediator has an enhanced child protection check and has received specific training on how to talk to children. Where appropriate, our mediator can arrange to speak to your child to discuss their wishes, if both you and we feel that it would help in reaching a resolution.
Mediation doesn’t look cheap – wouldn’t it be cheaper just to go to court and let a judge decide?
Unlikely – court hearings will usually cost far more than mediation. In addition, it’s possible that a judge could make a decision which itself could leave you worse off than if you had come to a mediated resolution. Mediation also enables you to retain some control over your future.
Are there benefits to mediation apart from saving time and money?
Yes, there are three main benefits. Firstly, getting a settlement resolved more quickly, and with the guidance of a mediator, means a lot less stress for you and everyone else involved, at a time when things are usually stressful enough.
Secondly, a resolution which has been come to voluntarily and with due consideration is far more likely to leave both parties feeling that the outcome is fair – which helps establish a more amicable ongoing situation for the future.
Finally, where there are children involved, it is extremely beneficial to them to know how they are going to be affected – this greatly helps them to adjust to the new situation with a minimum of uncertainty and worry.
Where can I find out more information?
The Ministry of Justice has produced a short video about the process of mediation which you can see here: http://youtu.be/RDxpWwA9NU4. For more information you will need to contact a mediator.