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Fiona Wilson answers some common client questions for Family Mediation Week
- AuthorFiona Wilson
Family Mediation Week, organised by the Family Mediation Council, is taking place during the week of 18 January to 22 January 2021. Its aim is to raise awareness of mediation and how it can help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively.
Is family mediation right for me?
As most other Family solicitors do, the Family Team at Goodman Derrick support mediation as a way of lessening the negative impact on families who are separating.
Mediation is not right for every couple (and it will not be possible where there are issues of domestic abuse) but where it is, it can bring about a speedy resolution of issues of concern at the end of a relationship.
How can family mediation help?
It is a particularly good way of successfully helping parents come to a workable arrangement for them spending time with their children as it promotes discussion and agreement between the two people who should understand most about what is right for their children, but it can also be an effective way of helping couples come to an agreement on financial issues.
How does family mediation work?
First of all there are some important basics to remember.
It is a voluntary process so it can only start where both parties agree to it.
It can be started at any time and if it doesn’t work first time round, there is no reason why it can’t be tried again later on, perhaps when emotions are running less high.
And it is very important to remember that a mediator is neutral and impartial so does not take sides in any way, but nor can they give legal advice. Their role is to act as a facilitator to help parties come to a solution to the issues they want to mediate on.
Mediation also allows parties to set their own agendas for discussion so that what is important to them is dealt with.
Is family mediation a lengthy process?
It can also be a fairly swift process with appointments being offered quickly and it usually becoming clear after two or three sessions if the process is going to work. During this time of pandemic, mediation is usually offered by video call.
All discussions in mediation take place on a ‘without prejudice’ basis in relation to financial issues save that when the exercise of financial disclosure is gone through, the information provided is always ‘open’. Mediators will require parties to complete financial statements when finances are the subject of mediation and disclosure is as fundamental in mediation as it is in court proceedings.
What is a Memorandum of Understanding?
When parties are able to reach an agreement, the mediator will draw up what is known as a Memorandum of Understanding setting out the agreed terms. That document should then be converted into a court order if there are ongoing court proceedings. But the Memorandum is also a without prejudice document and is not binding on parties until it is made into an order of the court.
If parties can’t reach terms of agreement in mediation, they then have to look at other ways of resolving their disputes such as arbitration or using the court process.
How do family lawyers help with a family mediation?
Most people like to have their own family lawyer so that they can discuss with them what has happened in each mediation session and get advice on where to go next. This can help people get a view on whether what is being suggested as a solution is fair and on what could be put forward as an alternative outcome.
And at the end of the process lawyers will assist in drawing up the necessary documents to obtain the order from the court endorsing the agreed terms.
Mediation is therefore an extremely useful tool in the box of options to resolve issues between separating parties and should definitely be considered, particularly in relation to matters involving disputes about children.
Your family lawyer can explain more about the process and help put you in touch with a good mediator.
"I advise people on everything to do with family law. At the beginning of a relationship I can help with prenuptial or living together agreements. When a relationship breaks down, I provide advice on how to resolve disputes involving finances and children. And if there is a dispute about a will on the death of a spouse or family member, I also advise on those matters."
Fiona is available at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0)20 7092 8527.
Goodman Derrick - Family Law
Divorce and relationship breakdown is stressful beyond words. Aside from the emotional issues, there are concerns for the welfare of the children of the family and almost always serious financial consequences.
As experienced family lawyers our objective is to guide our clients through the legal process so as to minimize the financial costs and to achieve the best possible outcome.
If you would like additional information on any area of family law please visit our Family Law section of our website.
This guide is for general information and interest only and should not be relied upon as providing specific legal advice. If you require any further information about the issues raised in this article please contact the author or call 0207 404 0606 and ask to speak to your usual Goodman Derrick contact.