Principles and Process
For any couple faced with separation, finances can often be a difficult area of discussion.
What is Family Mediation?
Family mediation is a process designed to help separated parties resolve issues concerning the care of their children and/or financial issues following relationship breakdown. The process can be used by separated couples and wider family members to discuss and reach agreement on issues without going through an expensive and time consuming Court process.
Family Mediation is a voluntary process. This means that parties cannot be made to engage in the mediation process. The exception to this is the assessment stage called the MIAMS appointment (see below).
As family mediators we are impartial. This means that we do not give advice. We can provide legal information however we do not substitute legal representation. As mediators we often advise parties to take legal advice as we go through the mediation process. Mediators also do not hold secrets and information provide to parties and discussions are transparent. This is important so that each party feels supported and there is no bias.
The decisions in mediation are made by the parties and not the mediator. The mediator’s role is to facilitate discussions, balance the power, assist negotiations, reality test proposals and manage the process.
Discussions in mediation are confidential i.e without prejudice. This means that unless there are exceptions involving child protections issues or fraud then all discussions remain private conversations between the parties and the mediator until an overall agreement is reached. This is important because it provides a safe space for parties to discuss and explore options. There are two stages to the mediation process. There is the MIAMS stage and then the substantive stage where parties meet jointly with the mediator to discussion options and enter into negotiations.
What is a MIAMS appointment?
This is a Mediation Information and Assessment Appointment. Anyone intending to issue an application to Court regarding arrangements for the care of children and/or financial matters has to attend an appointment with an accredited family mediator. There are some exceptions to this in cases of Domestic Violence and where there are safeguarding concerns.
The purpose of the MIAMS appointment is for the mediator to discuss different options available to parties to help resolve their dispute, find out what the issues are, explore suitability and look at whether mediation is an appropriate process to assist the parties to reach an agreement.
A MIAMS appointment takes approximately 45 – 60 minutes and takes place on a face to face basis between each party and the mediator or via Zoom or Skype. Parties attend/engage in MIAMS appointments separately.
If having attended the MIAMS appointment each party is willing to mediate and as mediators we assess the mediation as suitable then we set up a joint session. This involves parties sitting in the same room or different rooms with our mediator. We also offer mediation sessions via Skype or Zoom where appropriate.
There are not set number of mediation sessions. Each process is bespoke to the parties. Typically there may be 2-3 sessions taking place at 2-4 week intervals.
Family Mediation as a process is far more cost effective than litigation and can help parties resolve issues more quickly than traditional negotiations between solicitors and other methods of dispute resolution. Where parties have issues regarding the care of children the process is designed to assist parties to re-build and strengthen their relationship as parents even though their relationship as partners has broken down.
As a process it is future focused and looks at what arrangements should be going forward. It is constructive and positive and help parties to move forward.
For further information, or to arrange an appointment please contact us on 01274 861096 (Liversedge) or 01423 637272 (Harrogate) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we offer a free half an hour consultation.
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