Is mediation right for me?
Mediation is one of the most popular ways of resolving disputes out of court as it is cheaper and quicker than both parties each paying for a solicitor. If you are going through a divorce or separation and you and your partner are struggling to come to an agreement on what is fair then mediation may offer you a solution. The format is that both parties will get together to discuss the issues with a trained and impartial mediator in the hope that an acceptable solution can be found.
What are the benefits of mediation?
- Mediation is a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes than each party using a solicitor
- You have more control and say over what decisions than if you left it to the court to decide
- Mediation helps to preserve family relationships by encouraging communication, understanding and reducing conflict
- The mediation process is less formal and stressful than court proceedings and involves less conflict
Do I have to pay for mediation?
Mediation costs vary so you will need to do some research before selecting a mediator. As a couple you can agree to divide the costs between yourselves or they can be paid by either one of you.
Should you wish, we can let you have details of some local mediators.
Do I have to go to mediation?
Mediation is first and foremost a non-binding procedure. This means that, even though parties have agreed to submit a dispute to mediation, they are not obliged to continue with the process after the first meeting. In this sense, you always remain in control.
From April 2014, anyone applying to the courts for assistance in resolving disputes about children or finances, will be required to have taken part in mediation before applying to the court. The court will require evidence that you have attended a Mediation information and Assessment Meeting (“MIAM”) or that you do not have to attend one because of your circumstances. There can be a number of reasons why mediation may not be required for example, if domestic violence is alleged, if there is no mediation facility in the area in which you live or if one of you has a disability and cannot travel to a mediation appointment.
If you do not have attend mediation when your case requires it, the court process will be slowed down as a result as the court may well adjourn your case pending you attending a mediation meeting.
Do I need a solicitor and a mediator?
A mediator is a neutral party who can provide legal information but does not give legal advice and does not represent either party. A mediator will not go to court and argue for or against either of you. You do not need to engage the services of a solicitor but you can if you wish to and you may find that legal advice during mediation can be helpful for:
- Advising on legal matters connected with mediation discussions
- Advising on any proposed or reached agreements
- Turning the agreement reached into a legally binding agreement by drafting a consent order
How long can mediation take?
Generally, the parties meet with the mediator several times. The first meeting is often used to determine if mediation is a good option, to discuss how mediation will work and to establish basic rules for future meetings. Depending on the situation, the mediation process can include people other than the parties themselves, such as a new partner or extended family members.
Is the agreement legally binding?
Any agreement reached at mediation is not legally binding. Once an agreement is reached the mediator will prepare a document which sets out the proposed terms of the agreement. You will then need a solicitor to draft a what is known as a Consent Order which will then be sent to the court for approval by a judge. Once approved by a judge, the agreement becomes legally binding.
What happens if we are unable to reach an agreement?
The majority of people who engage in mediation are able to reach an agreement. If an agreement is not reached through mediation, a referral to court will be necessary. Details from mediation will not be disclosed to, or used in, court as mediation is confidential.