Everything you need to know about family mediation and how it works
Separation and divorce can be extremely stressful and emotionally difficult for both parties, but even more so when there are children involved. This blog will talk you through everything you need to know about family mediation, what to expect and how to contact us if you are looking for family mediation advice in Plymouth and the surrounding areas.
What is mediation?
Before we talk more in depth you need to know what mediation is.
Family mediation is a more constructive, cooperative and amicable way to set out arrangements for children and finances that can prevent the need for any costly and lengthy court proceedings.
The mediation process is a voluntary process, meaning that both parties must be willing to attend the mediation sessions and negotiate in order for the mediation process to be successful. If you have children you will need to make sure that you look for somewhere that caters for child inclusive mediation.
The benefits of mediation
There are many benefits of family mediation, particularly when compared to court proceedings.
The family mediation process should help both parties to reach an agreement on their own issues rather than those ruled to them by a judge. It is a chance to talk face to face in the same room, rather than through lawyers, and find out exactly what their issues are rather than making assumptions.
Mediation is confidential so both parties should feel that mediation provides them with a safe space in which to have important discussions about financial issues and co-parenting their children.
Importantly in the current economic climate, family mediation is cost effective, it is also flexible and can be done around your busy schedule. Here at Woollcombe Yonge we also offer online mediation which allows even more flexibility should you or your partner not be able to attend mediation in person for any reason, but with the same strict level of confidentiality.
We strongly believe in the importance of the children having their voices heard during any mediation process, should they and you both wish so. Our mediators are specially trained to speak and deal directly with your children to get their feedback and feed it back into your mediation sessions to help you reach an agreement.
What mediation is not
It is helpful to understand what mediation is not before deciding to go ahead:
Mediation is not a resolution or counselling for relationship breakdown.
The mediator is not a judge and therefore cannot decide what should or should not be done.
As a confidential process, none of the discussions from family mediation sessions can be placed before a judge.
What is a mediator?
A mediator is a third party facilitator who is present at your mediation sessions, they are independent, neutral and impartial and buy cheap ultram will help you come to an agreement regarding your children and finances.
You want to ensure you use a family mediation council registered mediator who will be a trained mediator. They will guide discussions to help both parties to reach agreements on any issues that have arisen during the separation process.
How does mediation work?
1 Preparation for the mediation process
In preparation for the mediation meetings, carefully consider your finances and be sure to take the correct documents with you. Think about what you would like from the mediation process but also what the other party may want from the process and where you would be happy to make some compromises if needs be.
Keep in mind that the solution needs to be fair for both of you.
2 Mediation information assessment meeting
First of all you will need to attend a mediation information assessment meeting (MIAM) so that the solicitors can decide whether your case can be dealt with via mediation or whether a court process should be started instead.
In an assessment meeting session you will be provided with lots more mediation information and will have chance to provide information on finances and discuss your issues individually before your first joint meeting. You will also have the opportunity to discuss legal aid, so do mention at your MIAM if you think you are entitled to legal aid.
3 Legal advice
You will be advised to seek legal advice during the mediation process in order to better understand your rights so it is strongly advised that you liaise with a solicitor. Your mediator will likely give you questions to ask your solicitor in between mediation meetings
4 Joint Mediation meetings
Where some couples end up resolving disputes in just one meeting, others can require multiple family mediation sessions in order to reach an agreement.
There will be some areas that may require more than one session to discuss and that’s ok. Your impartial mediator will help you talk through these, you just have to be open to finding a solution to any problems that arise for mediation to be successful.
5 Legal documentation
The mediation process is not a legal process and therefore the outcome is a memorandum of understanding (MoU), which is an agreement between the two parties and not legally binding, unlike a court order.
No further action needs to be taken if both parties agree, but, to make the decisions from mediation more strong-standing some people opt for the details to be put into legal documentation (a consent order), once they have been able to reach an agreement.
Most financial cases will require a consent order. For example, if you have agreed to share and divide a pension then the pension company will not be able to action this without the legally binding consent order.
Certain life events may mean that the circumstances agreed during mediation are no longer suitable. You can always return to mediation at a later date in order to renegotiate, should both parties be willing.
How much does mediation cost?
Family mediation is a way to reach an agreement without costly court proceedings but with the involvement of solicitors fees, mediator fees and producing a legally binding document of what was agreed, the costs soon start adding up. At Woollcombe Yonge we have our own trained mediator Will Giles who is accredited with the Family Mediation Council (FMC) as well as having experience as a family law solicitor meaning that you have fewer people to deal with.
Should mediation fail and the proceedings taken to court, or should you wish for a consent order to be written up, then this will incur additional charges to mediation alone.
For those financially eligible, legal aid is available (you can find out more about legal aid on the Government website). Legal aid means that the costs of family mediation will be covered if you meet the eligibility criteria of low income and under certain conditions such as domestic violence and where human rights are at risk.
Here at Woollcombe Yonge, we can assess whether you are eligible and apply for legal aid on your behalf, meaning one less thing to stress about. We even offer your first individual meeting and first joint mediation session for free if one of you is eligible for legal aid. Speak to our team to find out more.
Family mediation voucher scheme
You might be able to get up to £500 in vouchers from the government towards family mediation from the family mediation voucher scheme. Click here to see if you are eligible and to find out more.
What happens if mediation is unsuccessful?
In an ideal world families leave the mediation process with an agreement that both parties and the children are happy with. There are some barriers to mediation however:
- If one party refuses to attend the meetings then mediation will not be successful.
- If either party refuses to provide a frank and honest disclosure regarding their financial information then solicitors may deem the proposal unfair and mediation will not proceed.
- Sometimes either party is just not willing to compromise on what they think the outcome should be and therefore no conclusion will be reached.
In such cases where family mediation has failed an application will be put in to family court for a court hearing where the results will be decided by a judge. Most of the time you will be asked to prove that you have attended a mediation information and assessment meeting beforehand.
Woollcombe Yonge for Mediation in Plymouth
We hope you found this crash course on mediation useful! At Woollcombe Yonge we have become one of the South West’s most recognisable and respectable names in Law. We have many years experience with all levels of family law and mediation as both solicitors and mediation providers. Our lead Mediator is Will Giles, who is accredited with the Family Mediation Council (U409A) and The Law Society and will be happy to help you resolve your family issues through mediation.
"As a family we found the service provided to us was delivered with ’empathy’ and was in fact ‘outstanding’, we would most certainly recommend Woollcombe Yonge to friends.”