Mediation is a non-court based way for couples to resolve disputes about finances and/or their children.
A mediator is neutral and, although he or she may be a lawyer, does not provide legal advice. Mediation can take place both before and after court proceedings have been commenced.
Mediation is voluntary and confidential. However, if the parties are discussing finances there will need to be full and frank disclosure of their finances and this is not confidential, although any settlement negotiations resulting from such disclosure will continue to be.
The process focuses on the future, exploring options with the parties. The couple attend together with the mediator. Usually the parties will sit in a room with a mediator. During the mediation process the parties will highlight what is important to them. The parties with the help of the mediator will explore options to reach a provisional agreement, their solicitors will where necessary convert this into a consent order.
The mediator is neutral and is unable to give legal advice, although he or she can provide legal information. It is, therefore, preferable for the parties to have their own independent legal advice.
The parties have an opportunity to highlight what is important for them.
Both parties will have an opportunity to speak and the mediator will ensure that there is no power imbalance.
Some mediators are trained to meet children.
Mediation sessions generally last between 1.5 and 3 hours. A typical case requires between 3 and 6 sessions. If the parties would like to complete the mediation in a day with their solicitors present this is possible if the mediator, having spoken to the parties’ lawyers, agrees that this would give the mediation a good chance of success. It is also possible to have mediation where the parties are not present in the same room and the mediator moves from one room to the other. The extra time involved in this type of mediation would however result in extra cost.
At the end of a successful mediation, the mediator prepares a memorandum of understanding. This is a document setting out the parties’ proposals and details of any agreement reached. The parties would then generally consult their respective solicitors and instruct them to prepare a consent order which is then sent to the court.
Frequently asked questions about mediation
- Can I contact a mediator directly?
Yes. If you have a solicitor (s)he may also approach a mediator on your behalf. The mediator will need to speak with you and your partner to assess whether you case is suitable for mediation
- Do I need to retain a solicitor whilst in the mediation process?
It is not compulsory to retain a solicitor, although it is desirable as the mediator is neutral and unable to provide legal advice.
- How long is a mediation session?
The sessions are often 1.5 hours long. However, mediation is a flexible process and the sessions can be longer – they are rarely shorter. The mediator will ensure that both parties are able to manage a longer session if that is requested.
- How many mediation sessions are needed?
This will very much depend on each case. As a rule of thumb most cases take about 3 -6 sessions. Some need less. More complicated cases will need more.
- Who pays for the mediation?
The starting point is that the costs of mediation are met equally by the parties, but the parties can agree to a different arrangement.
For further information please contact our mediator Margaret Kelly (email@example.com telephone: 020 3709 8983)