How Does Mediation in Divorce Work?
Mediation is an informal means of resolving family law and divorce issues without the need to go to Court. It’s not counselling, therapy or legal advice/representation. Instead, mediation is there to help you and the other person find an amicable solution to your issue and help you make arrangements for the future with the help of an independent third party.
Our Divorce Solicitors can help you access mediation services to help you resolve your dispute and reach an amicable solution.
What is Mediation?
Mediation gives you the opportunity to discuss any issues that arise as a result of your separation or divorce, including children, finances, money concerns and how to separate your assets fairly.
This approach can be far less confrontational than going to Court, and encourages positive dialogue between both parties. Mediation can also make complex points of law much clearer, give you better control of the outcome and ease any difficulties in your relationship with the other person.
Mediation is completely confidential and the mediator won’t disclose information to anyone including your Divorce Solicitor or the Court unless both parties give their express permission, or if there is concern for the welfare of a child. Mediation is entirely voluntary and will only take place if both parties agree to it.
What is a Mediator?
A mediator is a neutral third party who is independent and impartial. Their role is to help you and the other party define the issues, identify areas of agreement, explore the options and try to reach an agreement about them. The mediator won’t take sides, give advice or make decisions for you, as their role is to facilitate effective communication between both parties.
What Happens at the First Meeting?
At the first meeting, your mediator will assess your suitability for mediation. If there has been domestic violence in the last 12 months or there have been child protection issues, you may not be suitable for mediation.
The mediator will try to help you identify key areas of disagreement, which usually surrounds finances or children. This part of the process is usually done separately so you won’t be in the same meeting room as your ex-partner. However, if you want to do this part together then you can. If the mediation will involve any children, they may be asked about their wishes and feelings, although they must consent first.
During this meeting, you’ll also have to come up with an agenda. This will help guide you through however many weeks or months it may take to resolve the issues you wish to mediate on.
How Many Sessions Will I Need?
As many as it takes. A successful mediation takes on average 3-5 sessions, but you can discuss this further with your mediator in the initial session. Depending on how many issues you have to work through and your budget, mediation can be as long or as short as you need it to be.
One of the benefits of mediation is that you’re in the driving seat. There are no deadlines except the ones you make. This approach allows you the time, and sometimes the space you need to properly think through what’s best for yourself and your children without pushing you to act on impulse or when emotions are high.
If you’re able to reach a consensus, the agreement will be recorded in a document called a Memorandum of Understanding, and a financial statement. These two agreements can then be taken to your Divorce Solicitor to form the basis of a legal agreement that can then become enforceable.
Quicker and Cheaper than Going to Court
Mediation is an effective option for a divorcing couple for many reasons. Firstly, it’s quicker and cheaper than Court proceedings, and enables you to stay in control of the process. Secondly, it may help you improve your communication with the other party and preserve a relationship for your family.
And finally, the Courts like mediation, and expect divorcing couples to at least try to resolve matters through mediation first.
For initial legal advice call our Family Law and Divorce Solicitors
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