Where the separating couple are luckily enough to still be communicating well and are confident they can reach an amicable agreement, mediation may be an appropriate route for them to resolve their financial and/or children issues. Whilst I am a great supporter of the mediation process, it is not appropriate for all of my clients. I am always a little nervous of clients who wish to use mediation only because they have heard it could save them lots of money on legal costs, but have not properly understood the process involved, to establish whether it is suitable for them.
Louise Barretto is a family law solicitor dual qualified in England and in South Africa. Louise explains below, what is involved in mediation and who it is most appropriate for:
What is mediation?
Family mediation is an alternative to court when parties are separating or divorcing. It is a voluntary process that enables couples to resolve their differences in meetings with the mediator where they can discuss issues involving their children and their finances.
How does it work?
The mediator is an impartial and neutral professional who will help resolve the disputes. Meetings are held with the mediator and the couple so that the mediator can facilitate discussions between the two. The mediator does not give either participant legal advice. Before starting on the mediation process, the mediator will discuss with each participant (either in person or on the telephone), what the process involves to ensure that they are happy to go ahead and that the case is suitable for mediation.
In some circumstances, the cases will not be suitable for mediation, examples may be where there is ongoing domestic violence, very complicated finances or one or both participants is not prepared to negotiate.
What are the benefits to the client?
- It is generally considered to be cheaper than the court process;
- It does not take as long as the court process can take to resolve financial and children matters;
- It is more constructive and generally less acrimonious than litigating in court;
- The participants have control over the timetable;
- Importantly, it improves communication between participants by enabling them to express their concerns and priorities in a safe and managed environment;
- It is usually considered to result in a much better outcome for the children of the relationship after the separation as the participants are usually better able to communicate with one another.
For more information you can contact Louise at Bishop & Sewell Solicitors which sets out some helpful information, case studies and her fees for undertaking mediation.
Rhiannon Ford Divorce Consultancy provides support and guidance for people going through divorce and/or separation, working with individuals before, during and after the legal process. I often work with family law solicitors and mediators to provide specialised professional help to clients struggling with the legal process.
For more information about these services, please contact me here
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