When a married couple decides to divorce but cannot come to an agreement on specific issues, they can choose to use divorce mediation to resolve their differences and come to a mutual understanding.
Matters that family mediation can help with include working out arrangements about parenting children, such as who they are going to live with and when the other parent can have contact with them. Mediation can also be used to come to an agreement about how to split finances during or after the divorce.
Where there are disagreements following the end of a relationship, a couple may be asked to have a Family Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (FMIAM) to find out if mediation would help. The role of a mediator is to help the separating couple decide how their divorce is going to work and to find a mutually beneficial way forward. A mediator is a third party who is trained and qualified for the role, is knowledgeable about family law, and is also used to working with family solicitors to help their clients.
How does family mediation work?
The family mediation process involves a couple attending sessions to resolve any disagreements they may have when their relationship ends. On average, most couples will require between 2-6 sessions depending on the complexity of issues being discussed and how far apart they are in their positions. Even with the introduction of no-fault divorce, these are usually enough to resolve any parenting or financial issues before the divorce comes into effect. Meetings are confidential and a mediator cannot give legal advice although they can provide information about the law.
Reaching an agreement relies on clear communication, a willingness to compromise, and empathy. The mediator can help you brainstorm the best ideas on how to go forward amicably and assist the decision-making process in general. A good mediator should also help you keep your focus on the issues at hand, help you move forward and at times, provide a reality check.
It is also important to note that any agreements reached during mediating sessions are not legally binding until an official agreement is drawn up by a family lawyer. Your solicitor can offer legal advice before and during the mediation process on what needs to be addressed and what constitutes a fair outcome. Solicitors will rarely attend mediation sessions but you’re free to check with them between sessions to see if the issues being discussed and the proposed outcomes are deemed fair in law.
If an agreement is reached, the couple can then go back to their respective solicitors so they can formalise it and send it to court, to make it legally binding. Some of the benefits of divorce mediation include avoiding an acrimonious split with someone you have children with, for both your sake and your children’s. It can also help you save on court costs and open your eyes to other issues you may not have considered such as change of surname, grandparents’ access, discipline, introducing new partners, and what will happen during holidays, among many others.
Is mediation always successful?
Family mediation is not always successful, but it usually works where there is buy-in from both parties, good communication, and a willingness to compromise. Where mediation is not successful you may still be able to reach a mutually agreeable solution with advice from your solicitors. If all else fails, you may need to give up the decision-making process to a third party such as arbitration or through the courts.
How much does divorce mediation cost in the UK?
The typical cost of divorce mediation in the UK is around £120, on average. However, fees may vary depending on your location and the number of sessions required to reach a mutually agreeable outcome.
Will mediation go against me in court if I refuse?
Refusing mediation may go against you in court and may be frowned upon if you do not have a legitimate reason for doing so. The same applies if your conduct is deemed to have frustrated the process and you have shown an unwillingness to attend an MIAM. The family court seems to prefer that mediation is attempted in good faith and will only accept non-attendance in the case of exemptions that are covered in legislation.
How Can GloverPriest Help?
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