The Family Law team at Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors recognise and support Family Mediation Week, every year, in January (18th – 22nd).
The aim of the week is to raise awareness of the benefits of family mediation and how it can provide a collaborative route to resolving issues between separating couples. With the ongoing lockdown in the UK, many of us are looking forward to a brighter future, not least couples who are currently separating or divorcing.
Jacqueline Major and Vanessa Friend are Partners in our Family Law team. As well as being experienced family law solicitors, they are both trained mediators. In this blog for Family Mediation Week, they look at what mediation is, how it works during the COVID-19 pandemic and how it proves useful in providing a conflict-free resolution to divorce and separation issues.
When should you consider family mediation?
You should consider mediation when you and your partner/former partner have a genuine desire to talk, reach an agreement and move forwards, especially when you expect to remain in contact in the future.
When should you start family mediation?
Family mediation can begin at any stage of a divorce or separation. Even if you have already begun court proceedings, it’s not too late to start mediation.
What happens during family mediation?
Family mediation is a series of discussions between you and your partner, which are facilitated by a trained mediator, whowill help you to reach agreements. The mediator doesn’t take sides or make decisions for you – they’ll empower you to find a resolution that works for you both, in a neutral, constructive and confidential setting.
An experienced mediator will encourage open, honest dialogue. Their goal is to help you both to move on with your lives and make the best decisions for your family.
Mediation sessions can be used to discuss any issue arising from your separation. Common topics for discussion include:
- Financial arrangements, such as maintenance payments, the division of the family home and other assets, child maintenance.
- Children matters, such as how much time the children will spend with each parent, issues related to their wellbeing.
- The terms and timings of any divorce proceedings.
- Urgent interim issues. For example, whether a child can attend school the following week in light of Covid or the use of a family car.
If you are able to reach an agreement, the mediator will prepare a formal document, which you can both review and, if necessary, obtain legal advice.
How is family mediation useful?
Most couples would like to come to an amicable agreement, but this can be difficult to achieve by themselves. Family mediation helps to resolve issues in a constructive and cost-effective manner, focusing on what matters most to your family. For many couples, they find it easier to discuss issues with a mediator present. It provides a safe space for exploring the options.
We’re firm believers that mediation is an excellent option for couples wanting to seek an amicable resolution to their matter. Both Jacqueline and Vanessa are members of Resolution – a community of family law professionals who aim to resolve issues in a collaborative, constructive manner.
Vanessa gave in-depth look at the benefits of mediation in family disputes in a recent blog, explaining how mediation puts you and your partner in control and can minimise the impact of separation on children. Please click here to read her blog or watch the video below:
How does family mediation work during COVID-19?
Even before the pandemic, many couples opted for virtual family mediation sessions, so many trained mediators were already equipped to deal with the challenges that Coronavirus has brought. With the use of video call software such as Zoom and Skype now even more widespread amongst legal professionals, you can be sure that you’ll be getting the very best mediation experience without having to meet face-to-face. For some couples, this may even make the process easier.
At Hodge Jones and Allen we set up separate online meeting rooms so that we can speak to you privately during the mediation sessions. We understand how difficult the pandemic has been for people separating or divorcing. Family mediation can help you to resolve disputes and come to a practical solution that works for you and your family.