(Available on request but primarily available to existing clients only.)
Mediation can help you maintain a civil relationship with your ex, and communicate amicably together regarding your children to meet their needs. As a Mediator, I offer you a safe environment to find your own solutions as to how you will separate or divorce.
You may wonder why you even want to be amicable at all if you are angry, frustrated and hurt. You may feel you’d like to simply ‘take him/her to the cleaners!’ I’d urge you to think a little further down the road. If you have children, the conflict between you is going to cause them far more emotional harm than the separation itself. Even if you don’t have children, you will be causing yourself more harm than good by going for ‘revenge’.
In the UK, most Mediators these days are also solicitors, and as such offer mediation regarding financial issues and practical issues about the children. As a Couples Counsellor and Mediator, I can also help you to resolve many of the emotional conflicts involved in your relationship. Whether you choose to work it out or go ahead and separate, I am committed to helping you deal with your crisis as amicably as possible.
As a Counsellor and Mediator, I cannot give you advice, but I can help you by informing you of your options and help you to reach an agreement.
How does mediation work?
Family mediation takes place over a series of mediation sessions, each usually lasting about an hour and a half to two hours.
I will first meet each of you separately to make sure you are both comfortable – and safe – to meet together and mediate. I will explain the process to you individually and find out what issues are important to you. I will tell you what to bring with you to the mediation session and answer any questions you may have.
It is possible, where there are few issues to resolve, that you may only require one mediation session. However this depends entirely on how many issues there are, and how difficult they are to sort out. Once the issues have been agreed, I will set them out in writing, in a “Memorandum of Understanding”. You can then take them to your lawyer to receive advice, and possibly have the legal paperwork drawn up. In many cases, this will be in a court order which will then be sent to the court – so the court can make what you have agreed into a binding order.
What are the benefits of having a Mediator?
Apart from the obvious benefits of helping you to reach an agreement by yourselves, this is the most cost effective way of sorting out what happens when you split up. As an independent mediator, I am able to have lower charging rates than lawyer mediators.
As a result of being involved in the discussions directly, you know that the deal is one you can live with. You will have looked at all the options yourselves and you will know that what you have decided should have the best chance of working for you and your family.
The mediation process empowers you. It helps you to fully understand the financial aspects and the ramifications of the decisions you make for your children. A criticism of the legal process (particularly if courts are involved) is that decisions are made for you rather than by you – and those decisions are imposed on you. You have to live with those decisions whether you like them or not. Read more here.
Is mediation compulsory?
The Government is very keen to promote mediation as it has proved to be more effective in maintaining agreements, and also because it is rightly seen as being less costly for the couple. So even if you feel that mediation is not for you, before court proceedings can be issued – either about children or about finance – you will usually be expected to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This meeting is so that you can find out more about mediation before you decide that you want to start court proceedings.
As a result of this drive toward mediation, the Government has stopped giving legal aid for the litigation of divorce, and instead to provide legal aid only for mediation.
Does Mediation always work?
Mediation is not suitable for everyone. Some people are simply not reasonable in their demands and it may be a problem trying to get them to agree things. Should you or your spouse fail to produce all financial information, the mediation process can be entirely useless when the whole matter ends up in litigation anyway.
You also have to feel and be safe in the mediation process, so it is rarely appropriate if there is any domestic violence, abuse or too much of a power imbalance in the relationship generally.
Having said that, mediation has proved to reduce conflict and provide better outcomes for resolving conflict.
Do I still need a solicitor to give me advice?
Whether or not you need legal advice depends on the issues at hand. In most cases, it is helpful to have independent legal advice – for each of you.
Whilst your mediator takes a neutral stance, your lawyer works only for you. Therefore it is to your advantage to get their advice on what you have agreed during mediation.
A mediator can give you legal information (including what the powers of the courts are to make certain orders) he or she cannot give you legal advice. Effectively, the mediator is there to facilitate the discussion – to act as a referee, guide or director of the process. The mediator has to be impartial and cannot tell you whether or not the settlement is sensible or fair for you.
What if my partner does not want to go to mediation?
You cannot force somebody to go to mediation if they do not want to do so. This is the first step in negotiations! Do your research, and encourage your partner to do so as well.
Help your partner to research it as well, and pass on the information that you have found. Your mediator can also call your partner to ask them whether they are willing to attend a mediation session.
What if I want my lawyer to be involved in the mediation?
It is possible, instead of having one or two mediators to help you and your spouse or partner, you can opt to both have your lawyers present. You will have to cover the lawyer’s fees as well, which will be a lot more expensive, but it can be useful if you feel nervous about negotiating or discussing issues. It is also useful if there are difficult legal issues to be resolved. The sessions tend to be long, and you could be better off asking for a day rate.
For further information visit the National Family Mediation Website
Mediation is confidential form of dispute resolution. It provides an informal and speedy solution to what could otherwise potentially cost a prohibitive sum of money working through the legal process. Disputes can be resolved rapidly by mediation rather than via the courts. The court then becomes more of ‘a last resort’ making the entire process far more efficient.