What Can I Expect in Divorce Mediation?
The government has announced another cash boost for mediation services
paid for through legal aid. On average, mediation is 4 times cheaper
than dragging the process through court and brings disputes to an end around 5 times faster
So, what can you expect in divorce mediation?
How Do I Start Mediation?
At the moment you are not obligated to mediate, but from this year when the Children and Families Bill
becomes law, all couples who wish to divorce must first attempt mediation
– with a few exceptions.
If you choose to mediate, you can get a referral from a solicitor
or simply approach a mediator yourself. Resolution, a national organisation of family solicitors can connect you with a well-trained mediator. They encourage good practice and only admit the best solicitors to their database, including Simpson Millar LLP.
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.
They will try to help you identify key areas of disagreement
, this usually surrounds finances or any children involved. This part of the process is usually done separately so you will not be in the same meeting as your ex-partner, however if you want to do this part together you can. If the mediation will involve your children they may be asked about their wishes and feelings
, although they must consent first.
During this meeting, you will 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?
This is simple - 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 are 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 is best for yourself and your children
without pushing you to act on impulse or when emotions are high.
The last step in mediation is the 'memorandum of understanding'
. This is a document containing all the things you agreed to in mediation with your ex-partner. A financial statement will also accompany it – all financial agreements are written down
so they can be reflected on in the future and 'rubber stamped' by the court.
These 2 agreements can then be taken to a solicitor forming the base of a legal agreement
that can then become enforceable.
Top Tips to Take Home
- Mediation is a lot cheaper and faster than a divorce settlement through the courts – ask your solicitor for a referral
- The divorce mediation process can take as little or as long as you like – you decide the timescale that suits you best
- Mediation can save you time and money, it is an effective way of working through your emotions – it is worth discussing as an option with your solicitor