Mediation is a completely voluntary and confidential process in order to find an alternative dispute resolution where couples, children, and grandparents have the opportunity to negotiate with an impartial person helping them to reach a solution that's acceptable to everyone. The mediator can talk to both parties separately or together. They do not make any judgments or determine an outcome, they just ask questions to help overcome underlying problems and to assist the individuals involved to an understanding of the issues that brought them to mediation. They help to restore and keep relationships intact wherever possible. Focussing on working together to go forward, not determining who was right or wrong. There are four main key points to consider in mediation. Mediation is not compulsory, it is always voluntary.
There is no pressure to undergo mediation sessions. It is worth being aware that courts expect mediation to have been attempted before any lengthy court hearings and expensive solicitors fees are spent. Mediators remain impartial, they will not directly express personal opinions, or take the side of the other individual. They help by listening and provide ideas and guide to resolve issues. Mediation is a safe and confidential way to talk about issues in a stress-free setting, to resolve disputes respectfully. It gives participants control over decision making. They will be treated as experts by mediators on children, work, finances and the future.
Mediation can vary from 3 to 5 sessions to months. It depends on what the issues are and how much is worked through during each session. Mediation appointments typically last between 60 and 90 minutes.
This depends on the mediation services that you choose, will it be individual or couples mediation. Phone the prospective mediator to see where they can help and find out the costs.
Going to court should only be used as a last resort if the individuals can't find a mutual decision. If you go to court, there is only one winner, and somebody always loses. If you are considering court because of children it is best not to do anything that could hinder your own access or the other parent's access to them, but that may be compromised if a judge were to become involved. The judge is going on facts and does not have to live with the consequences of a fallout in a court hearing.
It is strongly encouraged that children have mediation depending on the age of the child, but that they have a separate appointment, providing they want that to happen and it is agreed it would be beneficial.
Somebody who does not want to attend mediation can not be forced into going. It is best to seek legal advice on how to progress further if this is your current situation. Solicitors like to hear that mediation has been thought about first. If dealing with issues that are not related to children and you still would like to attend mediation then going alone can also help individuals with various areas of their lives.
Mediation is not legally binding. However, at the end a mediation period a summary is drafted called a Memorandum of Understanding and a Open Financial Summary. What this means is both documents can be used by a solicitor to write up a consent order. That can be more costly because a solicitor is being used for a small portion of the process in the mediation.
There are times when it would be recommended to have one, so you can receive the best form of legal advice. However, sometimes an agreement can be reached where further legal advice or intervention is not needed. If we feel during the mediation that we think legal advice would benefit the issue at hand, then we will advise to seek a solicitor.