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Mediation: what is it and why do you need it?

Published on 29 September 2021 | Modified on 16 January 2023

Written by Lana Jones

Divorce & Family

Seeking mediation is particularly useful for separating couples who are having difficulty in agreeing arrangements, but want to avoid the need to go through the courts if at all possible.

It can be a key component when looking to discuss and arrange practical solutions for decisions on child arrangements, money or property (or all three).

What is mediation?

Mediation seeks to find resolution between a couple with the support of an unbiased third party, the mediator. They will listen to each party, suggest practical solutions to issues under contention and ultimately aim to reach an agreement the suits the requirements of both parties.

These are confidential meetings, and often if ex-partners feel unable to be in the same room, the mediator will go back and forth between the partners.

For situations that involve children, the mediator will typically focus on finding the best solution for the child or children and their requirements.

Ex-partners that wish to move straight to court proceedings will usually be required to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) which will provide information on the mediation process and how it could support their proceedings.

What happens following mediation?

A successful mediation session that has resulted in an agreement will be followed by a ‘memorandum of understanding’ from the mediator. This will outline what each party has agreed to. For agreements that involve property or finances, it is highly recommended that parties seek legal support from a family law solicitor to turn the agreement into a ‘consent order’. A consent order will allow a party to take the other to court should they fail to comply with the agreement.

If mediation was unsuccessful, but parties would still like to avoid court proceedings, they can seek to attend a collaborative law session. Unlike mediation, this is carried out by solicitors that have specific training in collaborative law.

Each party will have their own solicitor, with ex-partners and their respective solicitor meeting and endeavouring to reach an agreement. Successful sessions will result in a signed contract and this will typically be finalised by way of a financial consent order. The next step for ex-partners who feel they have explored all suitable methods of alternative dispute resolution and are still unable to reach an agreement is to commence court proceedings.

If you would like to reach an agreement with your ex-partner with the support of Poole Alcock Family Law’s collaborative law specialists, contact us today.

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