It’s good to talk
Separation can be complicated, whether you are married or unmarried, and whether or not there are children involved. However, there is a process which can help you move on quickly, with certainty and with the foundations of a positive ongoing relationship with your former partner. It’s called mediation. And it’s our specialist subject.
Reduce conflict, avoid court, save money
In our experience, mediation isn’t just useful for reaching agreements and resolving disputes, it’s an invaluable way to help families find a way to move forward. A cost-effective solution to resolving financial, children, and property issues following a divorce or separation, mediation is a large part of what we do. It’s also the reason we’re highly respected within our industry. In fact, our mediators are so well regarded that judges, counsellors and other professional organisations often refer clients to us.
Our mediators are all experienced family solicitors. They are either fully accredited by the Family Mediation Council or working towards accreditation.
What is mediation?
Mediation helps separating couples sort out practical issues when they split. This usually means making arrangements for their children, resolving financial matters, or both. It is a legally recognised process that helps couples communicate and understand each other’s point of view allowing them to calmly resolve issues arising from their separation. It is far quicker and less expensive than going to court.
Any agreement reached at mediation can be converted into a legally binding court order – the same outcome as if you go to court.
The mediation process
The first step is to meet one of our mediators and establish whether mediation is the right path forward. Your mediator will explain how mediation works and discuss what you want to achieve. If you decide to continue, we will contact your former partner to find out if they are willing to mediate too. If they are, and after speaking with both of you separately, we will invite you both to a face-to-face meeting at our office, or via Zoom. Mediating by webcam works well, so we can mediate with people regardless of where you are based. We have mediated with people living in different countries and time zones. It is important to note that mediation is entirely voluntary. No one is ever forced to mediate if they’d rather not.
How mediation works
Mediation is a flexible process tailored to each client’s needs.
Once we receive your referral – you can complete the form here, or give us a call, or your solicitor may send us your details – our mediation administrator will get in touch to begin the process. The first step is separate meetings with you and your former partner before a decision is made as to whether mediation is appropriate. The meeting can be face to face, or by webcam, and usually takes around an hour.
Once the three of you – you, your ex, and the mediator – decide that mediation is the right way forward, our administrator will arrange a time for your first meeting and send you an information pack. Mediation sessions tend to last an hour and a half. Most couples only need one or two meetings but, depending on the issues involved, some couples require more. Remember, we can also work with other family members, such as grandparents.
If you reach an agreement at the end of the process, the mediator can put this in writing and send it to your lawyers. We always encourage clients to take legal advice at this stage, to double check the proposals are appropriate, and to allow their lawyers to make the proposals legally binding.
Including children in mediation
Mediation isn’t just helpful for the couple who are separating. Depending upon the circumstances, mediation can also be beneficial for their children.
When parents separate, children and young people can feel isolated, confused and sometimes ‘stuck’ in the middle. Although they don’t want the pressure of making decisions, children will always want to feel their voice is being heard and their feelings and wishes considered. The problem is, it’s generally very difficult for children and their parents to have a truly open and honest conversation. When parents ask their children specific questions, the children usually feel stuck, with divided loyalties, often meaning they give the answer they think the parent wants to hear, particularly if the child or young person knows that their parents aren’t getting along with one another. This is the main reason why, when there is conflict between parents, children may benefit from speaking to an independent qualified adult to express their views and feelings in a safe, calm, and candid way.
The decision for a mediator to talk with your children and include them in the mediation process must be considered carefully. In most situations, the mediator will give the parents the tools to talk to and reassure their children without the need for the mediator and child to ever meet. If the child or young person is invited to be involved in the mediation, it will only happen if both parents agree and have already discussed their children’s arrangements and needs during the mediation process.
Mediation is a more cost-effective solution. Using a solicitor to go to court can cost thousands of pounds, mediation usually costs hundreds. It is much cheaper. We are also part of the Ministry of Justice voucher scheme, which means we may be able to claim £500 towards the cost of any mediation dealing with children. The voucher scheme is not means tested and is available to everyone.
Unless you qualify for it, we do not offer public funding for mediation. You can check whether you qualify here as well as details of providers who do offer legal aid.
Our mediation specialists
We’re rightly very proud of our busy, successful, highly regarded mediation practice. In addition to being experienced family solicitors, Patricia Brodie, Peter Baughan, Beverley Long, Matthew Lord and Lucy Steele are all mediators and all members of Resolution.
When people talk, problems can be resolved. If mediation is a path you’d like to explore, contact our mediation team today.