Q’s and A’s – family mediation

Rebecca Higgins Blog

What is family mediation?

Family mediation is a process designed to help you and your ex-partner resolve issues regarding the care of your children and/or financial issues following separation with the help of an impartial third party, the accredited mediator.

What are the benefits of family mediation?

Family mediation is a future focused process to help you and your ex-partner resolve matters in a constructive and cost-effective manner and helps you to avoid or bring an end to costly and protracted Court proceedings.

What is the process?

Family mediation is a two stage process. The first stage involves you having a face to face or virtual meeting with our accredited mediator, Sally Clark. This stage is called the MIAMS appointment. The purpose of this appointment is designed to help you to explore the issues with a family mediator, we discuss what options you have in terms of processes to help you reach a resolution and we talk to you about suitability and willingness to proceed.  Providing that you and your ex partner are both willing to engage in the mediation process and we assess the process as suitable to your situation then we move to the second stage which is setting up joint sessions.

If mediation is not to proceed then we provide the necessary Court form which you can use to issue proceedings through the Courts.

If mediation is to proceed then we will set up a joint session. This will take place on a face to face or virtual basis with our accredited mediator.  Each mediation is different and is tailored to meet your needs. Typically there would be 2-3 sessions several weeks apart. There is opportunity between those sessions to seek legal advice.  Family mediation involves the discussion of issues which are life changing and will impact upon your life going forward. It is therefore important that you have the proper time to consider these important issues and reflect upon discussions before agreeing a way forward.

What happens if we reach an agreement?

If an agreement is reached during the family mediation process then our mediator will draw up the agreement and the two of you sign the agreement as does our mediator. It is then up to you what you do with that document. In children matters it may be that the document is a parenting plan and operates as an understanding regarding your commitment as parents going forward. It may that you want to seek an order from the Court made by consent and it is up to the Court as to whether there is a need for an order. It may that you wish to have an open exchange of letters between your solicitors, if you have sought legal advice. We can discuss options with both of you.

In financial matters it may that you wish to instruct a solicitor to prepare a separation agreement following the mediation or you may ask the Court in divorce proceedings to make the agreement into a Consent order.

The mediation agreement itself is confidential and mediation is a process to assist you to reach an agreement regarding a way forward. You have options as to how to formalise the agreement.

What are the costs of mediation?

We offer a fixed fee services so that costs are transparent and manageable.

Our MIAMS fee is £100 plus VAT and includes the provision of the Court form if mediation is not to proceed to the joint session stage.

Our fees for the substantive process are as follows :-

Cancellation fee (if less than 24 hours). Set fee payable. £100.00 plus VAT
Joint mediation (up to 60 minutes)

(up to 90 minutes)

£210 plus VAT

£260 plus VAT

Shuttle mediation sessions

Each individual can be in a separate room the mediator will pass from room to room. This can be substantially longer.

(Up to 90 minutes)

(Up to 120 minutes)

 

 

 

£260 plus VAT

£395 plus VAT

Letters sent during the mediation process confirming appointments and housekeeping arrangements Free
Mediator’s preparation time pre- and post joint meetings to include for example, going through your respective financial disclosure forms, preparation of asset schedules and checking other documentation supplied by each of you during the process.

Preparation of Open Financial Summary and Memorandum of Understanding

£210 per hour spent plus VAT

 

£260 plus VAT

 

£210 plus VAT for child only mediation

 

Can my children be involved in the process?

Yes if you have a child/ren aged 8 or over then their voice can be heard. Sally Clark is a highly experienced Child Inclusive Mediation and regularly talks to children a part of the family mediation process.

How do we sort out financial issues through family mediation?

Through whichever process you resolve financial matters following separation there is a very clear two – stage process:-

  1. Exchange of financial disclosure;

If following the MIAMS appointment you each agree to enter into the family mediation process and we assess your matter to be suitable then we send you out a disclosure booklet to complete. It may be that you are able to complete this prior to the first session or it may be that we discuss what disclosure needs to be provided by each of you during the first session.

What is important however is that you each provide full and frank disclosure as to your financial circumstances so that you can each make informed choices as to the appropriate way forward. Financial disclosure exchanged within the mediation process is called “open disclosure”. This means that you can show the documentation exchanged to a solicitor in order to seek legal advice during the process.  It also means that if the family mediation process was to break down then you could show that disclosure to a Court.

  1. Settlement discussions

Once financial disclosure has been exchanged and you are each clear as to your and the other party’s financial situation then we can look at generating options and move towards settlement discussions. Each joint session is 1 hour to 1.30 hours and typically there are a number of weeks in between joint sessions. It is important therefore that you seek legal advice in between sessions if you are unsure as to your legal position.

As mediators we cannot provide legal advice. We are impartial. We can provide legal information in a neutral manner. We do not however provide advice.

Mediation is the forum for discussions. The discussions are without prejudice. This means that they are confidential and are not legally binding.  This is important because mediation is a safe space to explore options and as mediators we help you both to reality test those. It is important that any agreement is fair and meets both parties’ needs.

The purpose of financial mediation is to help you to reach an agreement on the financial issues between you.  Once an agreement is reached then we prepare two documents:-

  1. Memorandum of Understanding – this is a summary of terms reached;
  2. Open financial statement – this is a summary of your financial position

Once the documentation is signed then this bring an end to the mediation process. if you are going through divorce proceedings then you can ask the Court to make an agreement, known as a consent order, in these terms. If you are not married or you are not going through divorce proceedings then you may decide to instruct a solicitor to prepare a separation agreement.