When it comes to resolving family law disputes, many people automatically think of going to court. However, there is another option that can be more effective and less stressful for all parties involved: family mediation. This process involves a neutral third party, known as a mediator, who helps facilitate communication and negotiation between the parties to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of family law mediation and why it may be the best option for your family.
Although family mediation is not compulsory in divorce proceedings, in England and Wales couples are encouraged to consider mediation as an alternative to going to court. At the very least they need to have completed a MAIM.
MAIM stands for “Mediation, Assessment and Information Meeting” in the context of family law mediation. It is a mandatory initial meeting that couples in England and Wales are required to attend before they can proceed with mediation or court action. During the MAIM, the mediator provides information about the mediation process, assesses whether mediation is suitable for the couple, and helps them understand the benefits and limitations of family mediation. The purpose of the MAIM is to ensure that couples are well-informed about the alternatives to court proceedings.
While the MAIM is typically mandatory, there may be exceptions in certain circumstances. For example, if there are issues of domestic violence or child protection concerns, the court may waive the requirement for the MAIM. Additionally, if both parties agree that mediation is not suitable or if one party refuses to attend the MAIM, the court may also waive the requirement.
The reason why the MAIM is a mandatory step is because there are numerous benefits to going down the mediation route.
One of the biggest benefits of family mediation is that it is typically much more cost-effective than going to court. Court proceedings can be lengthy and expensive, with both parties having to pay for their own legal representation. In contrast, mediation is often a fraction of the cost, and requires only one mediator who is paid for by both parties. Although a family solicitor is generally required to finalise the documents to be approved by the court if they are merely drafting documents to reflect what has already been agreed (as opposed to negotiating the terms) the legal costs are dramatically reduced. This can be especially beneficial for families who may already be facing financial strain due to the dispute.
As family law mediators Team at Tyrer Roxburgh fully support a process that encourages the separating parties to work out an agreement between them with a little help from a neutral third party. It’s a process that enables the couple to maintain control of negotiations and final decisions which tends to create a better longer term solution than a decision imposed by a court.
Other advantages include:
Going to court can be a stressful and emotionally draining experience for all parties involved. Family mediation, on the other hand, is a more relaxed and informal process. The mediator acts as a neutral third party and helps facilitate productive communication between the parties. This can lead to a more amicable resolution and can help reduce tension and conflict between family members.
Court proceedings can take months or even years to reach a resolution, causing prolonged stress and uncertainty for all parties involved. Mediation, on the other hand, can often be completed in just a few sessions. This is because the mediator works with the parties to find a solution that works for everyone, rather than relying on a judge to make a decision. This can be especially beneficial for families who want to resolve their disputes quickly and move on with their lives.
In court, the final decision is ultimately in the hands of a judge, who may not fully understand the dynamics and complexities of the family situation. In family mediation, the parties have more control over the outcome and can come to a resolution that works best for their unique circumstances. This can lead to a more satisfactory and long-lasting agreement, as both parties have had a say in the decision-making process.
Court proceedings are a matter of public record, meaning that anyone can access the details of the case. This can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for families who want to keep their personal matters private. In mediation, all discussions and agreements are confidential, providing a safe and private space for families to work through their issues.
What Can be Discussed During Family Mediation
During family mediation, various topics can be discussed to help resolve disputes and reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Some common issues that can be addressed during family mediation include:
- Arrangements for Children: Mediation provides an opportunity for parents to discuss and negotiate child arrangements, including contact schedules, decision-making responsibilities, and parenting plans.
- Division of Assets and Debts: Mediation allows couples to discuss and come to an agreement on a financial settlement. They can work out together how to divide their assets and debts, including property, bank accounts, investments, and debts acquired during the marriage.
- Spousal Support: Mediation provides a platform for couples to discuss and determine the terms of spousal support including the amount, duration and any other relevant factors.
- Child Support: Mediation allows parents to discuss and establish child support arrangements, including the amount to be paid, the frequency of payments, and any additional expenses related to the child’s well-being.
- Parenting Plans: Mediation provides an opportunity for parents to create a detailed parenting plan that outlines the responsibilities and schedules for each parent, including holidays, vacations, and special occasions.
- Communication and Co-Parenting: Mediation can help parents improve their communication and co-parenting skills, allowing them to work together more effectively for the benefit of their children.
- Other Family Law Issues: Depending on the specific circumstances, other family law matters such as domestic violence, relocation, modification of court orders, and enforcement of court orders can also be discussed during mediation.
It’s important to note that the scope of topics discussed during family mediation may vary depending on the specific needs and concerns of the parties involved. The mediator’s role is to facilitate open and constructive communication, helping the parties explore their options and find mutually acceptable solutions.
Alternatives to Mediation
Of course not every situation can be resolved via family mediation but it’s certainly worth a try. If mediation is successful then the Tyrer Roxburgh family law solicitors will guide you through the process to get the agreement legally formalised. If the mediation is unsuccessful we will take you through the next steps which may be solicitor led negotiation or court intervention – whatever works best for your personal situation.