New Court rules came into force in April 2014 which state where proceedings involve finances or children there is a now a requirement to attend a Mediation session. Victoria Strode, specialist family lawyer at Mogers Drewett explains mediation and its benefits.
Mediation is a way to try and resolve any issue you may have as a result of your relationship breaking down. It involves you and your partner both meeting with a trained mediator to work through any issues you haven’t or aren’t able to resolve together.
One of the most important aspects of the mediators role is to be impartial and neutral. As such the Mediator can only provide information to both you and your partner but not advice. If your questions are asking for opinion or advice on what you should do then the Mediator will need to refer you to obtain independent legal advice from a solicitor. Sometimes people have their own solicitors whilst in the mediation process so that they can take advice between mediation sessions about what was discussed.
As well as the need for impartiality there are various principles to Mediation as follows. Confidentiality – this means everything within the mediation process is confidential with two exceptions. The first is financial disclosure of assets and factual information about assets and the second is if the Mediator has any concerns about you, your partner or children’s safety they have a duty to report this to any authorities. Voluntary – while the mediation process is a requirement it is still a voluntary one therefore if at any stage of the mediation process you do not feel comfortable continuing with it there is no obligation for you to do so and finally it must be Without Prejudice – the discussions which take place within the mediation process are ‘without prejudice’ this means that any discussions cannot be later used against you should the discussions fail.
Mediation is often seen as the most cost effective way people can resolve issues arising from a relationship breakdown. If you reach a set of proposals at mediation that are acceptable to both of you then the mediator will prepare a memorandum of understanding recording the content of your discussions. You are each able to show this to your legal advisors who would then formalise these arrangements into a binding document if in relation to financial matters.
Mediation is often a quicker process than the alternatives, given you are both able to sit together to discuss arrangements. Essentially mediation is your process, it is a forum where you and your partner can, together reach an agreement about what is best for your family, rather than having a decision imposed on you. Research has shown that agreements reached at Mediation are longer-lasting, given that each and both of you would have reached the agreement together.
For further information or advice on this subject please see www.md-solicitors.co.uk or call 01749 342 323