Family separation and divorce is one of the most stressful events in life, requiring significant changes to the family unit and individuals when making major decisions about facing the future and the anxieties this may cause.
Family mediation is specifically designed to help separating couples to negotiate and form plans without the intervention of the family courts. Mediation is an important process, as it helps to ensure that ‘best communication’ is maintained during a very stressful process. It is important to attempt mediation, but it requires that both parties acknowledge the need to resolve their concerns. Every family situation is unique and requires a considered approach with realistic and achievable outcomes. It is important to prepare for mediation and recognise that compromise will mitigate the need for legal intervention and avoid further expense.
Family Mediation will commonly be used for matters such as:
- Financial Settlement.
- Housing arrangements (present and future).
- Child arrangements, shared parenting and maintenance .
Four Key Principles
There are four key principles to the Mediation process, which help to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved:
- Mediation is voluntary for all parties.
- The Mediator remains impartial to ensure that people do not feel influenced to make decisions they do not understand or agree with.
- Mediation is confidential and ‘legally privileged’, meaning that the information cannot be shared outside the mediation without both parties consent.
- Mediation ensures that you have control over the decision making process, placing no expectation for immediate agreement on complex matters that may require a ‘transitional’ or ‘considered’ approach before reaching the best outcome. You may require external advice to assist with the process to help you understand financial and legal implications.
There is no expectation for family issues to be resolved quickly, as it may take time to work out a realistic plan of action, however if the mediation is successful it can be much quicker than going to court. Not only can it help to resolve immediate concerns, but it can be used to identify and avoid any potential future disputes making it cost effective.
Is it legally binding?
Although mediation is not a legally binding process, if the mediation is successful and both parties agree a way forward, it is possible to formalise a legally binding agreement. The Mediator can draft a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’, which can be taken forward to create a legal agreement which can be enforced in the event that someone breeches the agreement.
All professional Family Mediators are registered with the Family Mediation Council (FMC).
Links for mediation: