Family mediation is a process where a Mediator supports and helps you and family members to communicate more effectively and to find consensual resolution during times of dispute which often occurs following separation and typically covers issues such as financial matters and children disputes (where the children will live, or how often they see each parent).
Mediation is a confidential process meaning that anything that is discussed in the meetings cannot be referred to outside the process. This allows you to speak freely and think outside the box. The only time the mediator can break the confidentially of mediation is in a situation where there is an admission of criminal activity or the welfare of a child or vulnerable person is at risk. The mediator will give a clear explanation of what action they will take.
Attending mediation is a voluntary process. What should be remembered is that Courts anticipate that parties will try mediation before taking their dispute to court. Many court applications require a mediator to sign a form before it is filed at court but there are some exemptions that may apply. If you refuse to attend mediation and an exemption does not apply, a Judge has the power to stop the proceedings and ask you try mediation first.
Family mediation has a very structured process.
You and your former partner individually are invited to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This is a fact finding and gathering process where your concerns, issues, fears and outcomes are discussed and noted.
If following the MIAM’s, the mediator concludes the case is suitable for mediation, a joint session is arranged.
During the initial mediation session, the mediator will explain the ground rules and what is expected of everyone in the sessions. This information is written down and is called an “Agreement to Mediate” and having gone through the document, both parties will be asked to sign the document.
Is where you, your former partner and the mediator meet in one room to discuss the issues you are dealing with. Sessions are generally between 60 and 90 minutes long and as a rule of thumb it takes between 3-4 sessions for parties to come to an agreement. It can be shorter or slightly longer depending on the complexity of the issues.
Is the second most common type of mediation. This is when you and your former partner do not or cannot be in the same room together. In such situations, the mediator will go between two rooms to carry out discussions. It is very helpful for people who have been in a volatile relationship in the past and personal safety may be a worry. One disadvantage of shuttle mediation is the increased time it takes to carry out discussion and as a result, the costs are often a little more.
Is when there are two mediators in the room. This can be advantageous when there is a high level of conflict between the two people or where the issues are complex or requires a specialist.
Sometimes if a child is old enough, it can be good to have input from them. These types of mediation are highly specialized the mediator will need to have the requisite qualification before this type of mediation can be attempted. Parental authority from both is always needed to carry out child consultations.
If you and your former partner agree proposals, the mediator will discuss with both parties about the best way to turn these into a legally binding agreement and if it is in fact necessary. It is likely at this stage that each party will seek the instruction of a family solicitor to assist.
We have answered many of the commonly asked questions about family mediation.
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If you would like to know more about this process or feel this could be something you and your partner would benefit from, please contact Matt Clemence at [email protected] or telephone Ipswich 01473 213311 or Colchester 01206 584584, where Matt will be happy to speak with you.
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