Family Mediation Services
What is family mediation?
Family mediation is where an independent third party helps you and your partner talk through matters arising from family breakdown. This can include helping you to discuss whether you wish to separate and if so how you will go about this. If you have already separated, discussions can be about finances, property, children or the process of divorce if applicable.
Family mediation is a voluntary process that both parties must want to try. It can help protect your parenting relationship moving forward and assist in ensuring you remain on good terms. This can enable all parties to move forward constructively and cost-effectively.
Why try mediation?
When families separate, there can be considerable pain and financial hardship. Family mediation enables you to explore the options available without the cost of having to go to court. You are able to make decisions regarding the children or finances together, meaning they are more likely to work for your family. The process is led by you, giving you space and time to deal with things at your own pace. It enables you to explore different options and work out what will work best for you and your family. This can prevent the additional stress and expense of having to go to court.
Family mediation, when should I contact a solicitor?
You can contact a mediator at any stage of the process. If you are considering separating and wish to explore your options a mediator can help you with this. The sooner you contact a mediator the more chance there is of preserving the positive relationship between you and ensuring all parties are able to move forward constructively.
How much will it cost and how does this compare to court?
The mediator will need to have an initial meeting with both of you, usually conducted separately, to take information, explain the process of family mediation and ensure that you are both happy to try the process. The cost of an initial meeting is £50 including VAT per party. Mediation sessions are typically 90 minutes long but this is dependent upon you. They are charged at £150 including VAT per hour per party. Payment is due at the beginning of each session. On average, mediation should be completed within 4-6 sessions, however this is entirely dependent upon the parties.
Legal Aid is available for mediation, although not currently offered by this firm. The mediator will be able to let you know at the initial meeting whether they believe you may be entitled to legal aid for the mediation and help you with finding a mediator offering this service.
If court proceedings are issued there will be a fee of between £255 – £550 for the initial application. For financial matters, there will usually be up to 3 hearings. For each hearing, you will usually require legal advice and possibly the assistance of a barrister. This could cost between £3,000 – £15,000 dependent upon the length of the proceedings.
Family mediation, how is the service setup?
Mediations are normally carried out with the mediator and both parties in the same room. The mediator will make use of a flip chart to note down different proposals that are made and to try to enable you to visualise what is being put forward. This will aid the discussions towards finding a resolution.
If you feel that you are not able to discuss matters in the same room as the other person and would be more comfortable in separate rooms, then the mediator may suggest shuttle mediation. This is where you both sit in separate rooms and the mediator goes between you.
What happens when mediation has been completed?
During family mediation you are encouraged to discuss proposals for resolution of matters. It is not always possible for a resolution to be reached. If you do decide on a proposal that will work for you, the mediator will draw this up into a Memorandum of Understanding. This is a privileged document so is not able to be used in court. This will then be sent to your solicitor for the terms to be incorporated into a consent order or a separation agreement. The consent order is then sent to the court for filing which will finalise matters.
What do I need to bring to mediation?
At the initial meeting, the mediator will need to take information from you regarding your current situation. To comply with the Money Laundering Regulations they will also require two forms of identification, a form of photographic ID (driving licence or passport) and a utility bill of not more than three months old. In order to assess eligibility for legal aid, the mediator may also require details of your income, to include your last three payslips.
In order for a financial settlement to be binding upon the parties, disclosure is required to take place. If you wish to discuss financial matters during mediation then both parties will have to provide full and frank disclosure of all finances. This will usually be done by way of a Form E. This document covers all aspects of the financial disclosure, including property, investments, pensions and income. It also looks at each party’s needs moving forward.
What if I’m not happy with the mediation process?
There are different forms of dispute resolution that are available to you and the mediator will discuss these with you at the initial meeting. Mediation is voluntary and can be stopped at any time by either party.