Mediation is an important tool which family lawyers use to try and resolve all sorts of family problems including children and finances, whether the parties are married or not.
At Pinney Talfourd we have found mediation particularly beneficial to help clients reach an amicable workable solution. It is one form of a number of alternative dispute resolution options which we regularly discuss with clients.
Whilst we ourselves do not offer mediation we work with a number of specialist mediators both in Essex and London whom we will recommend to clients. Those mediators are usually but not always qualified family lawyers.
Mediation usually involves the course of 3 or 4 meetings between you, the mediator and the other party. If matters are agreed then a memorandum of understanding is drawn up and then sent to us as lawyers for implementation. We find it extremely beneficial to support clients closely through the whole mediation process as we understand it fully and clients receive legal advice from us throughout the process.
Mediation is an alternative means to resolving most family related issues that you are unable to resolve with another party. Mediation is a conciliatory means of discussing matters openly and amicably in the presence of an independent third party mediator. This can include arrangements for children, divorce/finances and/or property disputes following the breakdown of a relationship. In limited circumstances, where appropriate and necessary, shuttle mediation can take place. This involves the mediator carrying out the mediation whilst at all times the parties remain in separate rooms.
You will attend an initial Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) meeting alone with the mediator. At this stage, the mediator will decide whether this is suitable for you or not. If suitable, a further joint meeting will be scheduled with your former partner.
If mediation relates to a breakdown of relationship and finances and/or property dispute, you will exchange financial disclosure of your financial circumstances with your former spouse. You will both be required to complete a Form E financial document (or a document like this) to exchange with each other. This will include the disclosure of bank statements, property valuations, mortgage redemption statement and pension valuations, amongst other things. This is not an exhaustive list and will be bespoke to each case. An analysis of each parties monthly needs in the form of an outgoings schedule will also need to be prepared. The mediator will produce a schedule of assets and, based on this information alongside considering s.25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act, will assist you both to negotiate towards hopefully reaching a fair and reasonable settlement. However, the mediator cannot give you advice during the process or provide you with an outcome.
It is hoped by engaging in these negotiations in the presence of a mediator it will lead to you reaching an amicable agreement rather than you needing to resort to protracted court proceedings.
An agreement can be reached during mediation usually within four – six sessions. These sessions tend to take place on a monthly basis, and it is a much cheaper exercise than spending substantial sums litigating your case through the courts. It is also compulsory to attend the MIAM meeting before issuing court proceedings as a mediator needs to complete part of the Court documentation.
A new scheme has been launched to encourage more people to use mediation services in family law cases as an alternative to the family courts. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has launched the Mediation Voucher…
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