mediation support

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A Family Lawyers Guide on How to Get The Most Out of Family Mediation

A Family Lawyers Guide on How to Get The Most Out of Family Mediation

In this blog, our family law solicitors offer tips on how to get the best out of family mediation to help you resolve your family law issue.  For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   Here are some tips on getting the best out of family mediation:            1.Do you know where you are going?  That may sound like a stupid question but often mediation sessions take place at a mediator’s office and the location may be unfamiliar to you. Your mediation session will not get off to a good start if you arrive late or flustered.           2. Do you have time?  Most mediation sessions last for about an hour to an hour and a half. Sometimes they can run over a bit. It is best to avoid booking the mediation meeting on a day or at a time when you need to rush off to an important business meeting or to do the school run.           3. Is it the right time to mediate?  If a couple has been separated for a while, then it may be the right time to go to mediation. For others, the timing can be more complicated as one of you may feel too raw about the relationship breakdown to be able to engage in mediation.  It is always a balancing exercise because you do not want to leave starting mediation for too long but starting it before one of you is ready can be counterproductive. A spouse who is finding it hard to come to terms with the marriage breakdown might find it helpful to have a period of counselling before or during the mediation sessions.           4. The choice of mediator  Make sure that the mediator is right for you and your spouse or ex-partner.  Your solicitors should ideally agree on the choice of mediator.  It can be hard to choose a mediator but do not be swayed by their location and convenience or your friend’s views. These can be important considerations but other factors may influence your decision. It may be the case that you know your spouse would feel more comfortable with a male or female mediator. You may be keen to accommodate their wishes to give mediation the best chance of working.  Your family finances may also be a consideration when looking at the choice of mediator.  If you own a family business or have complex finances a mediator with a legal or financial background might best meet your needs.            5. The mediation agenda  At the outset of the mediation sessions, the mediator will normally discuss and agree on an agenda.  You may only have one item on your agenda, for example, to keep the family home or your pension. Although it is important that your spouse, your solicitor and the mediator know what your priority is, it is also important that other things and options are put on the agenda for discussion.            6. Listen  Mediation is a two-way process. That is why it is hard, as you need to listen to your ex-partner’s views to try to reach a compromise. Listening to them should ensure that they treat you with the same courtesy and listen to what you have to say. Mediation sessions can be emotionally hard and can sometimes bring up painful topics or memories. If it is too much for you ask for a break. It is better to have a break rather than continue when you are very emotional or upset.            7. Ask for explanations  Solicitors, mediators and spouses can all assume that you know what they are talking about when they use legal terminology or talk about financial matters, such as pension-sharing options or mortgage finance.  If you are uncertain, about what has been said or what is proposed then ask for clarification. A mediator cannot give legal advice but they can explain legal or financial terminology. You should also ask for a detailed explanation from your family law solicitor and not make any decisions about your options and any proposed agreement until you have done so.            8. The past is in the past  When you are in mediation, it can be tempting to go back over old history. Sometimes it can be relevant. For example, if one of you paid the deposit on the family home or received an inheritance. Sometimes going over old history just makes it harder to reach a compromise. For example, if you want to look at the reasons for the marriage breakdown.  Mediation is normally about looking at the future and helping you reach an agreement that will work for the family. If too much time is spent on reviewing what went wrong it can be hard to focus on reaching an agreement.           9. There is more than one option  It is very rare for there to be only one solution in mediation. There are normally many options and it is best to go to mediation without having a fixed view that your preferred resolution is the only acceptable option.         10. Do your homework  A mediator will often ask you to bring some paperwork or carry out some investigations before the next mediation session. For example, you may be asked to get an estate agent’s appraisal of your family home or to speak to a mortgage advisor to look at your mortgage options.  Even if you do not want to sell the family home or get a new mortgage, it is important that you do the homework. If you do not your ex-partner may get frustrated by the mediation process and start court proceedings. You will then lose the chance to try to reach a mediation agreement.  [related_posts] Talk to your family law solicitor  Mediation should not be carried out in isolation from legal advice. It is a common misconception that the mediator will give legal advice. They cannot do that. Their job is to act as an impartial mediator to facilitate an agreement. They therefore will not take sides or advise you.  Mediation works best if you have mediation support. That involves:  Talking about what mediation entails, looking at the alternatives and deciding if mediation is right for you. If there has been domestic violence or a power imbalance then an alternative to mediation may be better for you. If you have reached a broad agreement a one-lawyer amicable divorce service may meet your needs  Getting legal information and advice about your separation and divorce and the timing of the no-fault divorce   Getting advice about your financial claims, for example, you need to know if you have a pension claim and the legal answer will depend on whether you are or were married to your ex-partner or not   Explain why you need financial paperwork to help you reach decisions in mediation and, if necessary, review your spouse’s paperwork with you  Getting advice on the types of orders that a court might make if you or your ex-partner were to start court proceedings so you can make an informed decision about any financial or parenting agreement discussed in mediation  If an agreement is reached, prepare a draft financial court order or child arrangement order for a judge to then approve  All our family lawyers can support you on your mediation journey to help you reach an agreement on childcare arrangements or a financial settlement after a separation or divorce.  For expert family law advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.
Robin Charrot
Jan 18, 2024   ·   7 minute read