Since April 2011, anyone applying to go to court for a divorce is required to first attend a meeting with a mediator (MIAM) to discuss alternative out-of-court options for separation. Couples can also contact a mediator without a referral. Family mediation has become a common choice for separating couples who want to avoid going to court and reduce the cost and duration of the separation process. Mediation is suitable for couples with children, couples who have recently broken up, or those who have been living apart for several years. It can also be used to dissolve a civil partnership.
Mediation is a collaborative method of dispute resolution, where couples work together with an independent mediator-solicitor to come to a mutual decision about the issues of their separation, such as:
- Settling or dividing finances, including savings, assets, debts, businesses and pensions;
- Deciding what to do with property, for example whether to sell up or buy out the other partner now or in the future;
- Making arrangements for children, including where they will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, establishing child maintenance payments, and any other issues such as plans for education or visiting extended family members.
One of the main benefits of family mediation is the ability to make your own decisions based on your unique requirements. While it can be tough to work through the emotional issues of your separation, couples who use mediation ultimately come out with a more positive outlook and a sense of control. Additionally, the process is private and can be significantly cheaper, faster and less stressful than going to court.
A mediator-solicitor’s role is not to act as a marriage counsellor but to facilitate communication between you and your ex, helping you to find a mutually beneficial solution. Once you have come to an agreement, your decision is made legally binding. If your situation changes in the future (for example if you relocate or need help supporting your kids through university) the agreements you make can be altered.
To speak with an experienced mediator-solicitor, contact the family law team at Frances Lindsay & Co by calling 01628 634667 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, book an appointment to discuss your needs in person at our Maidenhead or Beaconsfield offices. We offer fixed-fee family law services across the Thames Valley and London – let us take the weight off your shoulders!
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