Increasing numbers of couples are being encouraged to use mediation as a method of dispute resolution in an attempt to reduce pressure on the family courts and enable couples to separate in a less antagonistic way. However, many people still have misconceptions about what this technique involves, leading them to dismiss it as a valid method of separation. Mediation is a cost-effective and well-balanced method of separation that has many benefits for couples with financial or custody disputes and a high success rate. Here are the three most common misconceptions about mediation and an explanation of how it can help separating couples resolve their disputes out of court:
- “Isn’t mediation a type of relationship counselling?” Mediation seeks to explore the problems within a couple’s relationship to find a mutually-beneficial solution. Its main aim is to facilitate amicable separation so that couples can avoid going to court. While the process itself may act as a form of couples-therapy as you work through your differences, it is primarily a method of dispute resolution. Family mediation can be particularly useful for couples with children who want to find a way to co-parent after separation with as little disruption as possible.
- “I just want a court divorce – I don’t need to bother with mediation.” Since 2011, any couple applying to the court must attend a compulsory Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before proceeding to court to see if the method is suitable for their situation – your solicitor will advise when or if it is necessary. In the majority of cases, mediation saves couples time and money, offering a simpler and more sensitive way to separation.
- “But mediation isn’t legally binding…” If you are able to come to a decision through the process of mediation, a Memorandum of Understanding drawn up by your mediator can be converted into a legally binding order via your family solicitor. The purpose of mediation is to allow couples to facilitate a conversation about how best to deal with the issues arising from their separation, within a supportive and confidential environment. If a successful agreement cannot be made, your mediator will advise you to take legal advice. In most cases however, mediation helps couples to re-establish a dialogue and resolve their differences in a cost-effective and dignified manner. What’s more, mediated agreements are far more likely to succeed in the long term due to the open communication and cooperation involved.
If you are seeking separation from your partner, the first thing to do is get in touch with your family solicitor who will explain the processes available and provide you with further information on mediation. If you go on to attend a Mediation Information Meeting – alone or with your ex – your mediator will explain the process and benefits of mediation, the alternative options available to you, and the costs involved. If you decide mediation isn’t for you, your solicitor will help you to decide which route to take instead.
Family mediation is an effective, structured process that helps couples to negotiate their disputes in private with as little animosity as possible. By avoiding the need to go to court, mediation is often faster, easier, and cheaper for separating couples, and works especially well for couples with children.
For more information on mediation and MIAMs, visit the Resolution website. If you’re based in the Thames Valley, speak to a qualified family mediator at Frances Lindsay & Co who will be able to guide you through your options and take the weight off your shoulders throughout your separation. Please call 01628 634667 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.mediation beaconsfield, mediation Maidenhead, mediation solicitor Berkshire, mediation solicitor Buckinghamshire, mediation Thames Valley, misconceptions about mediation