Legal Information Centre


27 March 2009 by Mary Heaney

Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary process conducted in a neutral safe environment. It helps those involved in family breakdown or conflict to reach their own decisions about the future and to communicate better.

 


What is mediation?


 Mediation is a voluntary process conducted in a neutral safe environment. It helps those involved in family breakdown or conflict to reach their own decisions about the future and to communicate better. Your mediator will guide you in making practical decisions, for example decisions relating to your finances, property and arrangements for children.


 Mediation has been proven to reduce some of the emotional stress involved in family conflict and relationship breakdown and can save unnecessary legal costs. The National Audit Office reported that family disputes that are resolved through mediation are cheaper, quicker and according to academic research less acrimonious than those that are settled through the courts. However it is not a substitute for legal advice and clients are encouraged to consult solicitors when necessary.


Mediation is confidential except in circumstances where the mediator believes any adult or child could be at serious risk of harm.


The mediator's job is to try and help you reach the best decisions for you and your family.


 How does mediation work?


Mediation will generally begin with an initial meeting which you can either attend on your own or with your partner. After this first meeting, if all parties, including the mediator, decide that mediation can help, a series of joint meetings are arranged. Decisions made during the mediation process are written down and can be turned into legal documents by your solicitors, if you both agree.


 Mediation case study


Mediation case study Louise Hornagold, Managing Director at Essex Mediation, cites the following example of a couple who benefited from mediation following the breakdown of their relationship:


Paul and Sue separated eighteen months ago and things had gone from bad to worse. Sue had stayed in the house with the children and Paul had moved in with his new partner.


Paul had a good relationship with his children 14 and 9 before the separation but since he moved out he has hardly seen them. Sue knows how important it is for them to spend time with their dad but is unhappy about them meeting his new partner. Paul was still paying all the bills on the family home but was finding it increasingly difficult. Sue had recently got a part-time job and was enjoying working again having not worked since the birth of their first child. Sue was worried about approaching a solicitor as she didn't want to have to sell the home but after speaking to a close friend she realised that practical decisions did need to be made. When Sue went to her solicitor to talk about the separation, she was referred to Essex Mediation. During the first session, it became clear that Paul did not want Sue to have to sell the house, that Sue did not want Paul to continue to pay all the bills and that both of them wanted the children's needs to come first.


At the second session, they went through their monthly income and outgoings, and agreed a figure for Paul to pay each month as maintenance.


They both then went back to see their solicitors and came to the final session with proposals to finalise things regarding the family home and other matters. They had spent under £1,000 between them and had sorted everything out.


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