Mediation can be a simple and cost effective way of resolving issues that arise upon relationship breakdown. The aim is to facilitate discussions between you and your former partner with a view to reaching an agreement. It is not the same as counselling, and can a very useful tool for those who are clear that they are separating and wish to resolve matters amicably.
You and your spouse or partner will be able to sit together and discuss the key points that need to be determined with the assistance of a trained mediator, who will focus your conversation and guide you towards reaching a compromise.
How does Mediation work?
How your mediation works is up to you, and there are several options available. It is essential that you feel comfortable with the process, and so different approaches will work better for individual couples.
For example, your mediator can meet you and your former partner together and the three of you will talk together in a traditional mediation setting. Alternatively, you and your partner may meet the mediator at the same time in the same building, but remain in separate rooms. This is often referred to as “shuttle mediation”. In this scenario, the mediator will go between each of you to progress discussions. It is also possible to arrange appointments by Skype.
It is fairly typical for a mediator to speak to both parties individually at some point, so as to ensure both parties remain comfortable with the process. Each mediation session is likely to last between one and two hours and the number of sessions needed will depend on the circumstances of your case.
Before you attend your first session, you should have a think about the issues you would like to resolve. It will be helpful if you jot these down, and prioritise them. When you are thinking about which issues you would like to resolve, it is a good idea to try and think of two or three solutions that you believe would work as a solution. In doing so, it enables scope for discussion, and it more likely to result in a positive outcome, keeping communication open and respectful between you both.
The Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
The aim of a MIAM, or first assessment meeting, is to see whether medication is suitable in your families’ unique circumstances.
During the MIAM meeting, the mediator will explain how the process works, what options are available to you, and the benefits of using mediation. They will help you to decide whether mediation is a suitable option for you, and can advise on how many sessions they think are likely to be needed, outline associated costs, and explore whether you are entitled to Legal Aid funding.
If you decide that mediation is not suitable, then the mediator will sign a form and pass it on to either you or your solicitor so that the court can see that you have considered alternative approaches, should the matter require in a court application.
Choosing the right mediator for you
An experienced mediator can help ease communication and facilitate discussions between you both. They can help to reach agreements over issues involved children, finances, division of assets, or maintenance payments. Your mediator will always remain neutral and, unlike your solicitor, will not provide you with legal advice or advocate your position. It is therefore vital that you obtain independent legal advice from a solicitor alongside your mediation process.
The team at Warners understand that the breakdown of any relationship is difficult, especially where children are involved. An effective mediator can assist you in keeping open the channel of respectful communication between you and your partner, making it easier in the future to continue to parent together: from dealing with day-to-day issues such as homework and holidays; to celebrating milestones as a family such as a child’s graduation or marriage.
Matthew Aves is a specialist Family Lawyer and Accredited and experienced Mediator. For further information on mediation or any aspect of relationship breakdowns, please contact Matthew Aves in the Family Law Team on 01732 747900 or email [email protected]
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.