MEDIATION - WHAT IS IT?
Mediation is not a type of relationship/reconciliation counselling to assist couples to reconcile. Quite simply family mediation involves separating/divorcing couples meeting with a family mediator, who is completely impartial, and will help them sort out arrangements for children, their communication as parents, property and finances and any other consideration relevant to the family.
Mediators are trained to find solutions that both parties can agree on which is fair to both although they DO NOT make anyone do anything against their wishes.
Many family mediators are also family law solicitors and although they cannot give legal advice they can provide impartial legal information to help couples achieve realistic proposals. They can also provide details of solicitors who will support you through the mediation process if you feel you need legal advice and will recommend solicitors who can prepare the necessary court documentation to formalise and finalise any agreement reached.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
This is sometimes referred to as the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (Miam). It is usually an individual meeting with a mediator where you have the opportunity to talk you through your situation, get information about mediation and decide whether it is the right process for you. If mediation doesn't go ahead after the Miam a family mediator accredited by the FMC can sign off the appropriate court form to enable an application to proceed to court.
Following the Miam are the mediation sessions themselves which are confidential joint round the table meetings with the couple and the mediator. Sessions last up to two hours. There may be between 1-5 joint sessions depending on the issues to be resolved. Sometimes it may be necessary for impartial independent financial information to be provided by a third party during the meetings. It is also possible for counselling support to be provided alongside the mediation sessions to assist and support you to present your views positively.
This is the end of mediation which involves recording the agreement reached by the couple into a document which is given to the couple and can then be used by them to obtain legal advice and thereon for their solicitors to draw up a legally binding agreement, if appropriate.