Sometimes in highly emotional family situations it can be extremely difficult to find clarity. Emotions run high and it can often be hard to see an alternative perspective from an outside view. This is where mediation can be invaluable.
Mediation with an impartial third party allows you to work together to talk through whatever issues you may be struggling with, including decisions around divorce and civil partnership dissolution, such as those involving financial arrangements and disputes about children. Mediation can also be used for issues affecting unmarried couples who may not have recourse to the courts.
At Pengelly & Rylands, our Family Law team are highly experienced in the use of mediation to resolve family legal disputes. We can assist with:
- Deciding whether family mediation is appropriate for your situation
- Preparing for a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
- Advising you on what to expect and what to say in a mediation session
- Reviewing any agreement you have reached through mediation to ensure it is in your best interests
- Applying to a court for a Consent Order to make anything agreed in mediation legally binding
- Recommending alternatives to mediation where appropriate, such as collaborative law
Our family mediation experts offer an initial 1-hour appointment to discuss your requirements from £180 inc. VAT. You will then have the information you need to decide whether mediation is right for you or whether an alternative approach may be more suitable.
Book a fixed cost initial consultation with our family mediation solicitors in Tenterden
We can also offer meetings by Skype for clients who have to travel extensively or who now live abroad as well as meetings at your home or place of business if required.
How does family mediation work?
Family mediation involves the people who have a dispute, for example a separating couple, having a series of meetings with a trained mediator who will help them to discuss the issues they disagree on and work towards an amicable solution.
The mediator’s role is to act as a neutral third party who will guide the sessions, advise on points of law and work to defuse any potential for conflict. They will not give legal advice or suggest solutions.
The first step in the mediation process is to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Here the participants will learn more about what to expect from mediation and how it might help, so they can decide if they want to pursue this option.
For divorce and civil partnership dissolution, you will normally need to show that you have attended a MIAM before you will be allowed to pursue court proceedings (if you wish to do so).
Once you have decided to try mediation, you will arrange a first session with a mediator. You will agree what issues you need to resolve, then work through them together. It typically takes around 3-5 sessions of mediation to reach a conclusion, depending on the complexity of the issues involved.
At the end of each session, the mediator will record what has been discussed and any agreements that have been reached. You will then agree whether a further session is needed or whether everything that needed to be dealt with has been resolved.
At the end of the mediation process, the details of any settlement reached will be recorded in a Memorandum of Understanding. This is not a legally binding document but does provide a reference for the parties on what was agreed.
If you wish to make any agreement reached through mediation legally binding, then you will need to apply to a court for a Consent Order to do so.
Is family mediation right for you?
When is family mediation appropriate?
Although not compulsory, in most cases you will be expected to have at least explored the option of mediation before proceeding to having your case heard in court. It can be very effective for issues such as reaching a financial settlement or agreeing arrangements for children.
For mediation to be effective, you need to be confident that you fully understand the issues being discussed and what you want to achieve. You also need to have a good enough relationship with the other party that working productively together is possible.
When is family mediation not appropriate?
In cases involving domestic violence or abuse, mediation will not be considered appropriate. In these situations, court proceedings would be the more normal approach.
Mediation may also not be the best option if there are complicated issues to work though, such as complex finances or particularly challenging requirements for yourself or your children that must be handled with care. Where this is the case, alternative approaches, such as collaborative law, may be more appropriate.
Alternatives to family mediation
Collaborative law is one of the most effective alternatives to mediation for family disputes where both parties would prefer to avoid court proceedings.
Collaborative law involves the parties and their respective lawyers (who must have special training in collaborative law) working together to negotiate a resolution. The key advantage over mediation is that you have your own legal representative with you during the negotiations to advise in any complex matters and ensure your best interests stay protected.
Taking a collaborative law approach can be very effective for complex financial matters and arrangements for children where there are more challenging issues to consider.
Our Family Law team contains three trained collaborative lawyers – Avril Croud, Deborah Nicholson and Laura Hails – allowing us to offer this highly effective method of alternative family dispute resolution in house.
How we can help with family mediation
Preparing for a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
Our family lawyers in Tenterden can help you prepare for your Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting by telling you exactly what to expect at the meeting and advising you on what you should say, whether mediation is likely to be good fit for your situation and what the alternatives are.
Getting what you need out of mediation
If you decide to move ahead with mediation, we can help you to find the best mediator for you and help get you ready for each session of mediation. This can include advice on the issues you need to resolve, your legal position, the likely outcomes if you needed to go to court and what agreement you may realistically be able to get.
Reviewing family mediation settlements
Following each session of mediation, we can review any provisional agreements you have made and advise on whether we believe these represent a good outcome for your circumstances. We can also advise on the final agreement you make at the end of the mediation process.
Applying for a Consent Order following mediation
If you wish to make legally binding any agreement reached through mediation, we can assist with applying to a court for a Consent Order to do this for you.
Our family mediation advice fees
Fixed cost initial appointment
We offer an initial 1-hour appointment to discuss your requirements from £180 inc VAT.
Fixed fee family mediation advice
Where possible, we charge fixed fees for assisting clients with the mediation process to help keep the costs under control.