Mediation contact details – Is it for you?

With the government investing over £3m in family mediation since March 2021 and with many families able to claim up to £500 towards the cost of mediation (if eligible), it is hoped that more families will be able to find amicable solutions. to research.

Not only is mediation cost effective for families, it also reduces the detrimental impact that lengthy court proceedings can have on children and their parents and has always been encouraged by the courts.

So what is mediation?

Parents (or other family members) attend sessions with a trained and accredited mediator (working with the mediator together or separately), some of whom are legally trained, with the aim of finding confidential solutions and arrangements for their family without a judge deciding for them.

Is mediation for me?

Many parents are naturally unable to communicate constructively with each other for a variety of reasons. Mediation can help parents find a way forward, come to an agreement, and focus on their children’s needs and their future.

Almost any issue concerning the children can be discussed in the mediation, for example contact arrangements, education, where they will live and relocation. Unlike the court process, it is flexible and can be tailored to your family’s needs.

Mediation is a private process and the confidentiality that surrounds it often means there is more discussion than in court proceedings, which can lead to more lasting agreements.

It’s never too late to agree to mediation, even if you are in the court process, the judge may consider delaying the court process if you both want to attend mediation.

Although mediation is both faster and cheaper than going to court, it will not work for all families, especially where there has been significant domestic violence or controlling behavior. This is a voluntary process, so both parties must be willing to commit.

Can I take legal advice?

Yes, while you are going through mediation it is a good idea to get legal advice. A mediator will act as your guide, providing legal information and helping both parents to be cooperative and constructive, but they are not able to give you legal advice.

Is mediation binding?

Once you reach an agreement it is recorded, but it is not legally binding, but it can be made into a court order if you both agree.

How can mediation help resolve disputes surrounding contact agreements?

When parents disagree about arrangements for their children, mediation can help focus on the future and help parents understand that they are still parents who need to help and support their children without involving them. in a conflict.

Most parents, of course, want their children to be happy, and mediation can help separating couples come to terms on different aspects of parenting, find solutions, and develop detailed parenting plans in a comfortable and safe space. , even with partners who think the other is too unreasonable to achieve this. this. Court proceedings can lead to hostile negotiations leading to an unhealthy parenting relationship in the future and mediation aims to avoid this.

What about more complex issues?

Mediators are experienced, trained and impartial professionals with experience in complicated family dynamics. Mediation allows families to have their own schedule. Family circumstances are individual and not all aspects can be discussed in the court process, particularly due to time constraints. Mediation allows families to resolve complex issues at their own pace and at their own discretion.

Some communities, especially religious communities, are extremely private and public legal proceedings can be detrimental to families. Mediating these issues in a safe and private environment that is confidential can be extremely beneficial to parents, their families, and how they may be investigated or treated in the community.

Can my child be present during the mediation?

Mediators have a duty to encourage parents to consider the wishes and feelings of their children. Children aged 10 and over have the opportunity to attend mediation with you and if this is what you wish it is important to seek out a mediator who can offer child inclusive mediation.

Involving your child’s voice often improves discussions between parents and a child can discuss with the mediator what information they want to be kept confidential or passed on to their parents. The mediators have extensive experience in dealing with children who are going through stressful situations.

Can solutions be found in mediation?

Alternative dispute resolution can be overlooked when both parties or one of them decides to take legal action. Mediation is often encouraged by both family lawyers and the courts and is very successful in resolving family disputes.

The Family Mediation Counsel conducted a survey showing that mediation is successful in more than 70% of cases and that three-quarters of people who attend a first meeting with a mediator have continued to mediate.

First published on ECPrivateClient

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