Mediators are often used in family law disputes as an alternative to resolving matters through Court proceedings.
Mediation is confidential in nature and upon entering the process, an ‘Agreement to Mediate’ must be signed by both parties. However, it is important to note that the confidential element will be overridden if there is discussion of a criminal offence which has been committed and/or if a safeguarding risk is highlighted.
The mediation process is voluntary and the decision making is driven by the parties. For mediation to begin, there must be a joint decision as to whether it is suitable for both parties based on the circumstances of the case.
Lastly, the mediator is impartial. The mediator does not have an interest in the outcome and is only involved to facilitate the negotiations.
There are a range of benefits of the mediation process.
As the mediation process is driven by the parties, the specific needs of those involved can be addressed. It is therefore important for the agenda to reflect the wishes of the parties.
With the involvement of a mediator, agreements can often be made between the parties. These agreements are not, however, legally binding. If the parties successfully reach an agreement in relation to financial matters for example, consent documentation will need to be drafted by a solicitor and filed at court for approval, otherwise both parties’ claims will remain open. The consent order should be drafted very carefully to ensure it reflects the agreement which was reached between the parties via mediation.
Mediation can also help those involved to develop skills to work together in the future.
Mediation can be conducted through face-to-face meetings or via online platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The number of mediation sessions depends on the circumstances of the case. Each case is unique.
If you would like advice on whether mediation should be an option to consider in your case, please contact us to speak with one of our specialist family law solicitors today.
Author: Abigail Fillery