What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution which involves an independent mediator meeting with both people, either together or separately, to try and resolve an issue which has been unable to be resolved by the people themselves.
The process is intended to provide a forum for discussions to take place in a neutral environment with a view to those issues being aired and hopefully overcome. Clients will have the opportunity to talk about their views and feelings and what they would wish to achieve. The process will involve negotiation taking place between the clients to try and reach an agreed resolution.
The ethos of mediation is to empower families to make their own decisions, rather than being told what to do by somebody else, or by entering into court proceedings. Mediation can break through communication difficulties and can help people to resolve issues more easily in the future.
What sort of problems can Mediation help with?
Mediation can assist with all areas of family disputes including those about children, finances and separation. Mediation is open to people whether they are married or not and can cover any areas of dispute between separated people.
Mediation is not a substitute for legal advice and indeed mediation will often run alongside a solicitor’s involvement. The mediator will not give legal advice to the clients, but can give information to help an agreement to be reached.
Why use mediation?
There are lots of benefits to using mediation to try and resolve an area of dispute. Mediation is often much quicker and cheaper than the more traditional routes of resolving problems. It also enables people to have a real involvement in sorting out their problems so they are more comfortable with any outcome.
If you have to go to court to resolve a dispute then the court will make decisions about what should happen and one or either person may not be happy with the outcome. Mediation gives you the opportunity to try and find a solution which is right for both of you.
Do I have to use mediation?
Yes and no. Mediation is first and foremost a voluntary process. If either party is not prepared to talk about a problem, then mediation is probably not the right way forward because you need to be able to be prepared to talk and negotiate to try and get past the issue.
However new rules have been introduced which mean that before any person can issue an application to court about children or financial matters, they must first show the court that they have considered mediation and whether it could help in their case. There are some exceptions but on the whole the Judge will want to know that the parties have done all they can to sort out any problems between themselves before involving the court.
The mediator will speak, or meet with one or both of the parties involved, to see if mediation is appropriate. If it is, the mediator will take steps to set up the first mediation session. If it is not, the mediator will sign a form for the court confirming that mediation has been considered but is not appropriate.