The aim of mediation is to help people engage in discussions together so that the arrangements for separation are the best that can be achieved in the circumstances for the family.
Many couples would like to come to an amicable agreement, but find this difficult to achieve on their own. Family mediation helps to resolve issues in a constructive and cost-effective manner, focusing on what matters most to your family.
Mediators do not give legal advice, but they can provide information to couples about the legal processes and the general principles that the Court would follow in relation to children matters, property and money. It would be expected within mediation that both parties give to each other a clear picture of their financial position, and that they assist each other to understand that financial position.
Family mediation consists of a series of discussions, where a trained mediator will help to reach an agreement between both parties. The mediator facilitates the meetings, but does not take sides or make decisions. Their role is to encourage dialogue and help make arrangements for the future.
The mediator will speak to each person on the telephone and if all parties are happy that this is the most suitable process, an initial appointment will be arranged.
Most negotiations tend to focus on the care of children or financial affairs, but each family is unique and we adapt to suit our clients’ individual needs. We advise on a consultancy basis, which normally equates to approximately five or six sessions (it may be more or fewer) in which the family mediator, you and your partner or former partner will sit face-to-face and explore options.
If, after discussions, arrangements have been reached or both parties decide on certain options, for example about where the children live and what time they will spend with each of their parents, a confirmatory mediation document will be drawn up. Unless the couple especially wants to have a Court Order about the arrangements for the children, there is usually no need. If arrangements have been reached about the money and property, then it is always the case that parties should have any agreement recorded in a court order known as a Consent Order. This will be explained to the couple in mediation.
Before, during or after the mediation, it is open to either party to obtain independent legal advice. If you wish, your legal adviser can draft up a legally binding document.
Mediation can begin at any stage; even if you have already begun Court proceedings, it is not too late to commence family mediation.
We are aware of the damage that can ensue for families engaged in the Court process, and we are committed to assisting the couple to work in mediation, no matter how difficult the situation or emotions.
At Hodge Jones & Allen, we offer a professional mediation service in respect of all aspects of family separation, including issues about children and about financial arrangements on the breakdown of marriage.
One of our lawyers in the Family Team, Deborah Johnson, is a qualified family mediator and a member of Resolution.