When dealing with difficult family situations, such as divorce and separation, it is usually better for everyone if key decisions can be made amicably. Mediation can be a very effective way to achieve this and is now the most popular option for dealing with divorce.
Mediation can also be useful for unmarried couples going through a separation, who may not be able to rely on the courts for help.
At Morlings, our Family Law team are highly experienced in the use of mediation to resolve family legal disputes. We can assist with:
- Deciding whether family mediation is appropriate for your situation
- Preparing for a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
- Advising you on what to expect and what to say in a mediation session
- Reviewing any agreement you have reached through mediation to ensure it is in your best interests
- Applying to a court for a Consent Order to make anything agreed in mediation legally binding
- Recommending alternatives to mediation where appropriate, such as collaborative law
Our family mediation experts offer an initial 1-hour appointment to discuss your requirements from £180 inc. VAT.
Book a fixed cost initial consultation with our family mediation solicitors in Maidstone
We can also offer meetings by Skype for clients who have to travel extensively or who now live abroad as well as meetings at your home or place of business if required.
How does family mediation work?
What is family mediation?
Family mediation is a process where two people, usually a separating couple, meet with a trained mediator to discuss any issues they need to resolve, such as how to separate their finances.
What are the benefits of family mediation?
The aim of mediation is to allow the parties to reach an amicable agreement on these issues, avoiding the need for contentious court proceedings. This can avoid unnecessary conflict, as well as usually allowing matters to be resolved faster and with lower legal costs. It also keeps the details of any settlement private, as opposed to court proceedings, which are held in public.
What does a family mediator do?
The mediator’s job is to guide the process, by helping the parties to work together effectively, advise on any points of law and defuse any potential conflict. They are not there to tell either party what to do or to make decisions for them.
How do you start mediation?
You will first need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This is a preliminary session where the parties can find out more about how mediation works, whether it seems like a good fit for them and what they need to do next.
Even if you do not want to use mediation, you will normally still need to attend a MIAM to show you have at least considered the option before a family court will allow you to apply to them to deal with your divorce or civil partnership dissolution.
What happens during mediation?
At the start of each session, you will agree which points you are going to discuss. Both parties will then have their chance to explain their thoughts on the situation and what they would like to achieve. Any agreements you reach will be recorded by the mediator and any points that need to be discussed further in a future session will also be noted.
What happens at the end of mediation?
At the end of each mediation session, you will agree whether another session is needed or whether all the points that needed to be resolved have been covered. It typically takes around 3-5 sessions to deal with most standard divorces and civil partnership dissolutions.
When you both agree that you have covered everything you needed to, the mediator will record everything you have agreed in a Memorandum of Understanding. This will not be legally binding, but the agreed terms can be made legally binding by applying to a court for a Consent Order.
Is family mediation right for you?
When is family mediation appropriate?
Family mediation can be a good choice in many situations and is most commonly used for agreeing financial settlements and arrangements for children in divorce, civil partnership dissolution and the separation of unmarried couples.
For mediation to work, it is usually necessary for the parties to have a good understanding of the issues they need to discuss and what each wants to achieve. There also needs to be some degree of functional relationship between the parties that means they will be able to work together productively.
When is family mediation not appropriate?
For situations where there have been instances of domestic violence or abuse, mediation would not be appropriate and court proceedings will be the better choice.
Mediation may also not be suitable if there are complex issues you need to resolve where you feel you would benefit from having your own expert legal advisor on hand. In such cases, collaborative law might be more appropriate.
Using collaborative law as an alternative to family mediation
Collaborative law offers a highly effective alternative to mediation for family disputes where both parties would prefer an amicable settlement.
The process involves both parties and their legal representatives (who must be trained in collaborative law) to negotiate settlements for issues related to divorce, civil partnership dissolution and separation.
Having your own lawyer on hand to advise you makes this process more suitable for dealing with complex financial matters and arrangements for children where there are more challenging issues to consider.
Our Family Law team contains three trained collaborative lawyers – Avril Croud, Deborah Nicholson and Laura Hails – allowing us to offer this highly effective method of alternative family dispute resolution in house.
How we can help with family mediation
Preparing for a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
Our family lawyers in Maidstone can help you prepare for your Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. We can advise you on what to expect at the meeting, what you should say, whether mediation is suitable for your needs and what the alternatives are.
Getting what you need out of mediation
Should you choose to use mediation, we can help you to find a mediator who will be a good fit for your requirements. We can also help you decide which issues you need to work on through mediation and what sort of settlement you can realistically expect to achieve, with reference to what a court would be likely to order.
Reviewing family mediation settlements
We can advise you on any agreement you make through mediation, both after individual sessions and at the end of the whole mediation process. This way, we can help to ensure you reach the best possible settlement for your needs.
Applying for a Consent Order following mediation
Should you wish to make an agreement reached through mediation legally binding, we can apply for a Consent Order for you to achieve this.
Our family mediation advice fees
Fixed cost initial appointment
We offer an initial 1-hour appointment to discuss your requirements from £180 inc. VAT.
Fixed fee family mediation advice
Where possible, we charge fixed fees for assisting clients with the mediation process to help keep the costs under control.