Mediation is a process which enables you to sort things out with your former partner or spouse without using the Court process. It is often called an alternative ‘dispute resolution’ process.
The main benefits of mediation are that:
- it’s quick;
- it’s based on a ‘fixed fee’ – pay as you go along, so easy to budget;
- it’s very cost effective – you and your former partner/spouse remain in control of the decisions that are made which affect your family; and
- it promotes working together which can be very important where children are involved – you are not limited to Court solutions, you can be creative and have solutions which work specifically for you and your family
Mediation works by having joint meetings with your chosen mediator. At those meetings you and your former partner/spouse decide what you need to deal with and can including discussing children arrangements. The mediator helps you focus on the issues and come up with solutions to try to resolve areas of difficulty. The process is not limited to helping couples with divorce or separation. It can help with wider family issues as well, such as grand parents.
Many people talk about divorce mediation, family mediation, legal mediation or marital mediation – the terminology all generally means the same thing – a joint meeting with someone quailfied to act as an independent, professionally trained mediator.
Will the mediation be Child Inclusive Mediation?
It is unlikely that children would be involved in the actual meetings with their parents and the mediator. It is an option to give the children (usually if aged 10 years or over) to meet with the mediator separately which is either known as child inclusive mediation or direct child consultation. The children can discuss whatever they would like with the mediator and they may decide to give permission to the mediator to feed back some of their thoughts and views to their parents. This can sometimes help parents move forward with issues they are trying to resolve. It can be empowering for children to have the option to speak to someone independent, especially if they also know that person is helping their parents to talk and make decisions that impact on them.
For further enquiries or to make a mediation referral please contact our mediator, Tracy Cross.
How much will it cost?
First of all, you and your former partner/spouse will be seen separately at a cost of £100 plus VAT. If you progress to joint sessions, these normally last around 2-3 hours and cost £200 plus vat per hour. These costs are normally shared equally between parties unless you agree otherwise and the session is paid for at the time it takes place. At the end of the process, paperwork can be produced to confirm what happened in the process and if you have achieved any solutions. There will normally be a fee for producing this documentation which will be agreed with you. The maximum will normally be the same cost as a session although may be less depending on the contents.
How many sessions will we need?
That really depends on you and the other party and how quickly you are able to reach agreement about the respective issues. Sometimes, one session is enough. Often, where family finances are involved, you’ll need at least 2, usually because financial documentation needs to be gathered. Sometimes, for children’s issues, you may have a session and then have some time to see how things work before coming back for a review and progress session. The average is probably 3-5 sessions but this is by no means written in stone or essential.
Will the mediator decide our case for us?
No, the mediator is not a Judge and won’t tell you what to do. A mediator is impartial and unbiased. Their role is not to prefer one party or the other. Our mediators are also experienced family solicitors and can therefore help you think of constructive ways to sort things out. They cannot and will not give you legal advice though. If they think you need legal advice before you can go any further, they will encourage you to get that advice and then consider a further session to look at the options for resolving the case again. The mediator can give you information that would otherwise be freely available to you. This is what we call the ‘google’ test, ie if you could google the information and find it, the mediator can tell you all about it as a result of their personal knowledge. Choosing an experienced solicitor mediator therefore, can often save you time and money.
How long will it take to sort it out?
Probably not very long. A court process will often take in excess of six months. You can meet with your mediator as often and as quickly as can be accommodated by you and them and you can achieve a lot in one session.
Will I be in a room with my (former) partner?
Usually, yes you will. The main point of mediation is that you and your former partner/spouse communicate constructively to find solutions to whatever issues there are between you. Whilst sometimes, you can mediate effectively by remaining in separate rooms (known as shuttle mediation), it works better if you can be in a room together to talk things through. If being in the same room is an absolute no, the reasons for this need to be considered and if you really want to go ahead with mediation, a shuttle mediation may work for you.
Will the children be involved in the meetings?
This is unlikely. If the children are at an age where you think they need to have some input in the decisions that you make for them, you can discuss this within the mediation and look at ways that this information can be best obtained. It’s usually much better for children to see their parents working together to come to solutions which then work best for them, rather than involving them in the dispute. What mediation is very good for, is helping parents find ways to continue to co-parent so that the children are not badly effected by the family changes that are going on. Often, lack of or poor communication between parents, is the main problem for children of divorced or separated parents.
What if we can’t agree?
If after the meetings you just can’t find a way forward, your mediator will look at other options for you to move forward and this may involve legal advice or different dispute resolution options
My partner wants to mediate, do I have to?
No you don’t. Mediation is entirely voluntary and is unlikely to work if you feel forced into it. The reason why our mediators would want to see each of you alone to start with is so that your reasons for mediating can be explored with you and we can explain what to expect from the sessions.
It is true that the Courts and indeed the Government would prefer everyone to mediate rather than go to Court. It is an option that is worth exploring and you can get further information about mediation without committing to the process at all.
I like the sound of mediation, what do I do now?
Contact us, look at our useful links below for further information, and tell your former partner/spouse about it too. If they agree that it’s a good idea, they can contact us as well and we can then talk you both through the next steps. All of that can be done over the phone and we can send you forms necessary to get the ball rolling.