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All you need to know about mediation

View profile for Simon Craddock
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Over the last year as Legal Aid has been cut for many people, the Government and the Court have emphasised the route of mediation instead of costly Court proceedings. There are very limited circumstances where someone will now be eligible for Legal Aid and negotiating arrangements for Children and Finances through Solicitors and the Court can have significant cost implications. Mediation is a way of sitting down with your former partner or spouse to talk in a constructive environment in the hope that arrangements can be made without the need of Court proceedings. 

What is it?

It is a voluntary and confidential process where both you and your former partner or spouse sits down in a room together with a trained and impartial mediator. The Mediator does not tell you what to do but will help keep the discussions on track and put forward different options to help resolve the issues at hand. They can help you plan for the future in the hope that an agreement can be made and the relationship between you and your former partner or spouse becomes more amicable and you are able to discuss arrangements between you without the need of a third party being involved. Mediation can save you time and stress as well as money. 

What can be discussed at mediation?

In mediation you are able to discuss any aspect of your separation or your divorce or dissolution. This can include anything from children, finances and property. In relation to children, arrangements can be discussed as to who sees the children and when, who they are going to live with, arrangements for special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas, you can even discuss how you are going to tell your children you are separating. In relation to finances, you can discuss who is getting what assets from the relationship, how much maintenance should be paid and what is to happen to the property you have together. 

Is it free?

No, mediation is not a free service to most; however it is more cost effective than resolving disputes through Solicitors at first instance. 

Do I have to go to mediation?

No it is voluntary, however it is encouraged in the hope that some progress can be made with arrangements for children or finances. If, however arrangements for children or financial settlement cannot be agreed between you and your former partner/spouse and negotiations through solicitors have not been successful, then Court proceedings are likely to be necessary. The Court will no longer accept an application for children act proceedings or financial proceedings without a certificate from a mediator stating that you have at least attended what is known as MIAMs (Mediators information and assessment meeting).

Is Mediation always suitable?

No, in some circumstances mediation is not suitable. Mediation is not recommended and unlikely to work in cases of domestic violence or child abuse. The Court will allow a direct application to the Court if there is evidence of domestic violence or abuse. Mediation is also not suitable if either you or your former partner is bankrupt and you need to resolve financial issues. Mediation will also not work if you do not know where your former partner is and they cannot be contacted. 

If you would like to discuss mediation further and to know if it is suitable for you please contact one of our family experts