What is mediation?
Mediation is a method of resolving issues which may arise on the breakdown of a relationship. It is a process that provides an alternative to going to court. Family mediation is increasingly used to resolve a myriad of family problems, such as disputes between a parent and child or contact with grandchildren, in addition to financial disagreements.
How does it work?
The process involves both parties explaining their concerns and needs to each other in the presence of a qualified family mediator in a safe, neutral environment. The mediator is impartial, which means that they cannot give advice, only provide information. They are there to facilitate a settlement by assisting both parties.
The mediator does not make decisions or impose a settlement. The mediator will help the parties work through options and reality check their proposals. A mediator will ensure that there is not a power imbalance in the negotiations.
What are the benefits?
- The parties have the opportunity to improve their communication and chances of long-term cooperation which is essential where there are children.
- The mediator controls the process and the parties retain control of the decisions made.
- Generally more cost-effective and quicker than going to court.
- A flexible process that can be used to settle a variety of disputes.
- Can help to reduce tension, anger and misunderstanding between disputing parties.
- Can be used whether or not the parties have seen a solicitor and proceedings have begun.
Is mediation confidential?
The mediator will not pass information on unless the parties agree. However, if it appears that someone has been seriously hurt, or is at risk, the mediator may alert the police or social services.
What is said in mediation cannot be used in court later if mediation breaks down. This does not apply to factual information given during the mediation process, such as
details of income and property. However it would cover negotiations and offers of settlement.
Any understanding reached through mediation is usually written down and signed by both parties and the mediator. This memorandum of understanding is not legally binding and cannot be enforced in court unless the parties decide to make it a legal contract or court order.
Each party has the freedom to find another way of dealing with the dispute at any time, and mediation does not generally remove the need for legal advice.
How long does it take?
Mediation takes on average between 4 and 6 sessions, each lasting about an hour and a half. However the pace will be determined by the couple who are in mediation.
The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of divorce, separation, arrangements for your children or wish to protect your assets prior to getting married, contact the family team on 01202 786161 or email [email protected].