Family Mediation Week will be taking place between 22 and 26 January. Each year the Family Mediation Council organise a week full of informative and educational webinars and networking activities to raise awareness of family mediation and the benefits that it can bring to families who are separating.
We recognise the importance of mediation and the wide variety of non-court resolution methods available and the significant benefits they can have to families. Especially those who are trying to resolve a breadth of issues concerning finances and children.
Despite mediation having been present in family law for some time, there is often confusion as to how the process works and how it can benefit those who choose to engage. To provide clarity on the mediation process we will answer some frequently asked questions.
What is family mediation?
Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process. An independent mediator will facilitate discussions between you and your partner to resolve issues together, to reach an amicable solution which works for your entire family. The role of the mediator is to provide guidance and explore the options available to you. They will not provide you with legal advice and will remain independent and neutral to ensure the best possible outcome.
What are the benefits of family mediation?
Mediation provides a relaxed environment in which you and your partner can have confidential discussions. The process is often quicker than other options such as solicitor led negotiations and court, where there is great uncertainty as to when a conclusion may be reached. Mediation is also more cost effective, less confrontational and you can choose your mediator.
Is it a lengthy process?
The mediation process can vary for everyone given that families all have different circumstances. On average it takes between three and six sessions to address the issues and reach a resolution. However, it is important to remember that your individual experience may be shorter or longer, this will all depend on the issues you would like to discuss.
How are agreements recorded?
Any agreement reached at mediation will be recorded in a document called a memorandum of understanding. This is a private document which would be provided to your lawyers to ensure that your agreement becomes legally binding, usually by way of a court order. If you have reached an agreement regarding child arrangements a parenting plan incorporating the terms you have agreed will then be prepared.
What happens if you cannot reach agreement at mediation?
If you cannot reach an agreement while using the mediation process, then we will discuss suitable alternatives with you. This may include using an arbitrator to decide upon the issues at hand or making an application to court for a judge to decide.