Mediation is an effective option for couples seeking a solution to separation without having to go to court, but many people are unaware of the benefits of the approach. Here are some frequently asked questions we receive about mediation at Frances Lindsay & Co:
Do I have to attend a compulsory mediation meeting if I want to get divorced?
From April 2011, all couples who wish to apply to the family courts for a divorce are required to attend a Mediation Information Meeting (MIAM). This is a preliminary appointment which allows you to talk through your situation, look at the different options available, and find out more about the benefits of out-of-court dispute resolution methods. The purpose of this meeting is to see if your separation can be resolved through mediation, which would allow you to avoid the costs and stresses of going to court.
Once you have attended a MIAM, if you decide mediation is not for you, you can then continue to issue proceedings to court.
If I choose mediation, will I have to go to court afterwards?
The entire separation process can be handled through mediation, but if you have further legal issues that require going to court, this can be handled separately through your solicitors. You may also choose to alter mediation agreements in the future, which can be completed through your mediator or via court.
Isn’t mediation another form of marriage counselling?
Common to contrary belief, mediation is not a form of relationship therapy. A mediator is an objective adjudicator who can help you to communicate and negotiate with your ex and come to a productive solution.
How long does mediation take?
The length of mediation will depend on how complicated your case is, and the number of issues you need to discuss. On average, most couples will attend between 2-5 mediation sessions following their initial introduction meeting, lasting around 1.5 hours each.
Can mediation help us resolve issues regarding children?
Yes! Mediation is an excellent choice for parents since it is based on open communication and cooperation. Mediation can help you to make arrangements for your children’s future care, maintenance payments, living arrangements, education and any other aspect of co-parenting in the future.
Can I use mediation to dissolve a civil partnership?
Yes. Mediation can be used as a method of separation for married couples, those in a civil partnership and cohabiting couples. It’s also suitable for couples who have been living apart for several years as well as those who have recently broken up.
Can mediation be used for financial issues?
Yes. Mediation can cover most issues relating to separation, including financial settlements, the division of assets, property, businesses, pensions, and dealing with debts.
Do I have to attend mediation with my ex?
While mediation is based on collaboration with your ex-partner, you do not have to attend appointments together – though it is often quicker and more productive if you do. A mediator is impartial and does not take sides, so it can be useful to work through the issues of separation with an objective intermediary.
Does mediation mean we get to choose who gets what?
One of the main benefits of mediation is that you have the option to make your own decisions and negotiate a settlement that is mutually agreed, rather than leaving decisions up to the court. Your mediator is there to facilitate the process and offer guidance. Research has shown that couples who complete the mediation process are more satisfied with the outcome than those who go to court, since they have been more involved in decision-making.
Is a mediator a ‘proper’ solicitor?
Many mediators are also family law solicitors. For peace of mind, check that your mediator has been trained by the family law organisation Resolution and is accredited by The Law Society.
Is mediation cheaper than court proceedings?
In most cases, yes. There are no court fees to pay, and the mediation process is often much faster. Of course, it all depends on the complexity of your case and how well you are able to cooperate with your ex – the more you disagree, the longer the process will be, and if you are unable to resolve your issues through mediation you may end up in court anyway.
Is mediation legally binding?
Once you have come to an agreement, your mediator will draw up a memorandum of understanding which can then be taken to your solicitor to be drafted into a consent order to make it legally binding.
Mediation is an efficient and cost-effective alternative to court for couples who feel able to work through their problems with the support of a mediator. To find out more, or to book an appointment with an experienced family law mediator in the Thames Valley, get in touch with Frances Lindsay & Co.