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“CALL THE MEDIATOR !” – Does Family Mediation work?

One of our Family Law experts, Amanda Thurston explains :

The latest “fly on the wall” documentary from the BBC follows a family mediator helping couples agree the terms of their separation or divorce. From whether to sell the family home, to how much maintenance to pay, or how often one of them can take the children on holiday – it can be a minefield.

So how does Mediation Work?

The first thing to remember is that mediation is voluntary, so both parties need to agree to try it out and decide which mediator to approach. The Mediator will then usually want to speak to each party individually before setting up meetings for everyone to attend. Each party gets the chance to raise the issues or concerns they have and the Mediator will try to get the other party to listen to them before expressing their own views. If discussing the family finances, the Mediator will also help the parties agree on what information and documentation they each need to provide to assist with the negotiations.

The meetings can be stressful if agreement is not easily reached on a point, but the Mediator is specially trained to deal with this situation. They can even do “shuttle mediation” with each party in a separate room if the parties’ relationship has got to the stage where they can’t even be in the same room as each other.

Between the mediation meetings, each party should ideally obtain independent legal advice so they know what terms would be reasonable to propose or accept.

If terms can be agreed between the parties, the Mediator will provide a written Memorandum of Understanding. This is not yet legally binding on them – but is evidence of what has been discussed and agreed. It can then be taken to a family solicitor to be made legally binding.

If the mediation breaks down, the Mediator can sign a court form to allow one of the parties to start court proceedings to resolve the issue if they wish.

Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAMS)

There is currently a requirement in place that you must at least attend a MIAMS before starting most court proceedings regarding children or family finances – to find out whether Mediation would be suitable for you. This is a one to one meeting with a Family Mediator who explains all the alternative routes available to try and resolve the dispute without starting court proceedings. The aim is to ensure you are informed about all the options and understand what route would work best for your situation. There are certain exemptions in place – for example if it is an urgent case.

If you would like more information on Mediation, please contact:

Clare Pilsworth, a Family Mediator and Family Law Solicitor on clare.pilsworth@curwens.co.uk or 01763 241 261.