Separation is an extremely emotive and difficult time. The process is frequently described as akin to bereavement and you are likely to go through a whole host of emotional states. Whosever decision it was to separate and whether it was mutual, instigated by you or it came as a bolt out of the blue, sorting out financial affairs following separation and arrangements for the care of your children is not a commercial transaction. The most straightforward of “legal cases” can be complicated by emotions and personal feelings.
The process of mediation is designed to help you both reach agreements on the issues between so that you are able to avoid the financial and emotional costs of litigation. Mediation is a half way house between sitting round a table with your partner on your own and dealing with all communications between solicitors.
What does mediation involve?
The two of you meet with the mediator for individual appointments in the first instance. The purpose of that appointment is so that the mediator can find out from you what the issues are, what you are seeking to achieve and your perspective on the issues at hand. The initial appointment is known as the MIAMS appointment. It is the mediator’s role to assess suitability and willingness and also to discuss other forums available to you for resolving the issues between you.
It is important that you each feel comfortable with the process and the mediator thinks that the process is suitable. Mediation isn’t suitable in every case for example in situations where there are issues relating to child protection or there are issues of domestic violence then other processes may be more appropriate.
If mediation is assessed to be unsuitable or one or both of you do not wish to engage then the mediator can supply the Court form you need to make an application to Court to resolve financial matters and/or child related issues.
If mediation is assessed as suitable and the two of are willing to attend a joint session then the substantive part of the process begins and a joint session is arranged.
Once the substantive part of mediation begins then the mediator’s role is such that any matters discussed by either of you with the mediator then this will need to be shared with the other party. It is important that as mediators we do not hold secrets and we are transparent and impartial.
A series of joint sessions takes place, Discussions take place round a table in the same room with the two of you and the mediator. Sometimes mediation takes place on a shuttle basis. This means that the two of you sit in separate rooms. Shuttle mediation tends to take place in situations of particularly high conflict.
The mediator’s role is to facilitate discussions and assist with generating and discussions options. As mediators we cannot provide legal advice. Mediation is not an alternative to legal advice and we suggest that you each seek legal advice between sessions, particularly when discussing financial matters.
Through the process of mediation we can help you to discuss matters in a pragmatic manner, cut through the conflict and assist you to work out your own solutions. In family mediation you retain control of the decisions affecting your and your family’s future.
Mediation is more cost effective then negotiating between solicitors and/or getting involved in financial and emotionally costly Court proceedings. The process also assists you to resolve matters in a far more timely manner meaning that you can move forward with your future and not spend many months/years on occasion fighting through the Courts.
Family Mediation week 2020
This week mediators across the Country will be writing blog articles and publishing information about Family Mediation. Please do check out the Family Mediators Association webpages and the social media posts and articles. As secretary to the Board I cannot emphasis enough what a great organisation FMA is. Please help us to spread the word.