This week marks Family Mediation Week (16-20 January 2023), an annual calendar event designed to raise awareness of family mediation and the benefits it can bring to separating couples and families.
There are an increasing number of options available to parties to try to resolve matters arising out of their separation or divorce. Other than the obvious route of going to Court - which is emotionally and financially very expensive - there are a plethora of alternative routes that can be explored. These can range from negotiations through lawyers; mediation; and private negotiation hearings all the way through to arbitration which is a binding but private forum similar to a Court trial.
So why should separating couples choose mediation and how do they know if it is the right process for them and their families?
What is mediation?
A mediator is designed to act as a neutral, independent and impartial third party to facilitate discussions between parties. A mediator's role is not to take sides; is not to give advice; and is not to tell the parties what the outcome ought to be. Rather, the mediator's job is to guide the individuals through their discussions, whether that be in relation to the separation itself; the financial consequences; and/or the arrangements for their children. The process gives the parties ownership to try to reach an outcome which works for their individual circumstances in a non-confrontational way.
Why does mediation work?
- Confidential: it provides you with a forum to talk safely, privately and calmly which gives a much better chance of reaching decisions that work for your family;
- Creativity: it allows you to consider and discuss options that are tailored specifically to suit your own circumstances and those of your family;
- Cost effective: it means you can avoid the Court process and the emotional and financial cost that often comes with it;
- Communication: it often works to improve communication to enable you to deal with future problems more effectively; and
- Children: it benefits your children by helping parents to work together to plan for their future.
How does mediation work?
Mediators listen to find out what is important to you and your family. The mediator's job is to ensure that each person is given the opportunity to express their views and will aim to assist you both in reaching a solution which you both find acceptable.
After an individual session with the mediator, there will be a number of joint sessions to cover the topics which you both wish to try to resolve. When you are both satisfied with the choices and decisions you have reached, your lawyer will then complete your legal formalities if needed.
With the severe delays and backlogs that are being experienced within the English Family Courts at the moment, the need for parties to consider alternative mechanisms to resolve disputes has never been more present. The benefits of the mediation process cannot be underestimated and ought to be at the forefront of separating couples' minds.
If you have any questions regarding mediation, do not hesitate to get in touch.