Family breakdown is an emotional and stressful time for all involved. Unpicking a family life, sorting out living arrangements and access to children – these are big things to get right.
And these emotions are often heightened by the prospect of bitter court proceedings, which can also be costly in terms of time as well as money, usually with an uncertain outcome. Quite frankly, these additional pressures and anxieties are the last thing that anyone needs at such a difficult time, which is why many people turn to mediation in an attempt to resolve the issues which can arise on the breakdown of a relationship.
Mediation is generally a quicker and more cost-effective route to resolving disputes and aims to make the process less traumatic for children involved. In the mediation process, you also retain control over the outcome of your dispute, whether it relates to children, financial matters or both. This differs from the court process where a judge will make a final decision if you can’t agree.
This doesn’t mean that mediation is the easy option. Discussing and possibly compromising on sensitive issues with someone you have previously been in a relationship with can be emotionally draining, but by attending mediation you and your former partner make your own decisions.
A trained and experienced family mediator can help you through the process and facilitate you in reaching an understanding with your ex. The mediator has to be impartial which means they can’t give advice, only information. On this note, it can be a good idea to retain the services of a solicitor, who will be able to advise you. A mediator doesn’t make decisions or impose a settlement – they’ll help you work through your options and offer a reality check on your proposals, making sure there isn’t a power imbalance in the negotiations.
Family mediation isn’t limited to the separating couple. It can also be a helpful process in resolving disputes involving grandparents and, if appropriate, children can be invited to join. Mediation isn’t usually appropriate for cases involving domestic violence or child protection issues – however, there are other options, such as “shuttle mediation” where you and your former partner don’t have to sit in the same room. Instead, your mediator will “shuttle” between the two of you to facilitate negotiations.
Used correctly, mediation is an effective tool in resolving family disputes. Through mediation the couple has the opportunity of improving their communication and chances of long-term cooperation with each other, which is so essential where there are children. The mediator controls the process and the parties retain control of the decisions. There is always full disclosure of financial information if the mediation relates to financial issues.
One of the particular benefits of attending mediation at Lester Aldridge LLP is that all our mediators are qualified and experienced family solicitors so they are aware of how the law operates in practice. We are all members of Resolution, a national association of specialist family lawyers committed to a non-confrontational approach to resolving family problems.
The Lester Aldridge family team deal with these and other issues on a regular basis and are frequently instructed by clients regarding divorce proceedings.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of 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]