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The family mediation process: how does it work?
When it comes to family mediation, the important thing to remember is that you’re in control. By sitting down and negotiating, you’re taking charge of your own future. You’re making joint decisions about your separation, rather than having judgement imposed by a court.
It’s an empowering thought, isn’t it?
So if you’re considering using mediation to resolve your family dispute, it’s important to understand how the process works in practice.
It’s a commonly quoted fact that mediation can be significantly quicker and cheaper than going to court, but its benefits go far beyond these simple considerations.
Think about what you want to achieve
You’ll need to consider what you want to achieve through mediation. For many it’s about retaining an element of control over how you split your assets post-separation, whilst for others it’s important to maintain a relationship with their former spouse for the benefit of the children.
In reality, everyone has different priorities so it’s important that you take the time to properly consider yours so that you enter into the process with a clear mind-set.
If you think mediation is suitable, you’ll initially need to complete the referral form – this can be completed by you, your partner or your solicitor and is the first step in establishing whether you’ll both agree to attend the initial meeting. If this is the case and you agree that mediation is a possibility, then a first meeting will be arranged.
During your assessment meeting, you may be seen together or separately from your former spouse. We’ll explain the process, establish whether your issues are suitable for a mediated approach and assess whether you’re eligible for publically-funded mediation services.
You’ll have the opportunity to ask as many questions as you need during this session.
If you wish to continue with mediation, you’ll both be asked to complete and sign an ‘Agreement to Mediate’. This form outlines the principals that guide and underpin the mediation process, so it’s important that you read it fully.
You should expect to attend three to four mediation sessions, each lasting at least an hour and no longer than 90 minutes.
Of course, the number of sessions required is wholly dependent upon the progress you make, which is why it’s so important to approach the process with an open mind and a willingness to negotiate.
If neither of you are eligible for public funding, you will each be responsible separately for your own mediation costs.
At the end of the process you’ll be given a document which outlines your discussions, proposals and outcomes. You may wish to take this to a solicitor for them to put into a legally binding agreement.
But what if mediation hasn’t been successful? Let’s be realistic; mediation won’t work for everyone. If this is the case for you, it’s important to remember that you can revisit the process anytime. Just by getting to that stage, you’ve probably made more progress than you realise at the time.
What can we discuss at mediation?
Actually, you can discuss pretty much anything that relates to issues arising as a result of your separation. Of course, there are common topics and these generally revolve around parenting arrangements for your children and how to split jointly-owned assets, such as your home, car and any savings.
Mediation can also help you look at ways in which to communicate going forwards, without the need for petty squabbles and mounting distrust.
To speak to someone about mediation, call us on 0117 9636 202.
We have family mediators who can talk to you about your options and help you focus on finding practical, workable solutions to your family problems.
Alternatively, complete our online enquiry form and a member of our team will get back to you.