Open a newspaper in January and you’ll no doubt see a lot of articles about divorce with the use of punchy headlines such as "Divorce month", "D-Day" and "January Divorce Spike". The media predictably quote that more instructions are given for divorce on the first working day after the New Year than at any other time of the year. The fact that I have taken some time out of today to write this blog suggests that is not in fact the case.
To flip the so called "Divorce month" on its head, at Consilia Legal we have decided to focus our January blogs on family mediation and its benefits for separated families rather than jumping on the back of the media’s divorce wagon. "Mediation month" seemed a fitting title for our first blog of the year.
When thinking about separation there are some immediate pressing questions which in our experience as solicitors and also family mediators are often asked. Whilst there will be ample information out there, this month in particular, which answer those questions from a legal aspect, mediation can be a process which is often overlooked at this time of year.
If you are considering family mediation as an option for resolving your family dispute, here are some questions you might like answering.
1. How long will it take?
The mediation process starts with each party attending a separate mediation assessment appointment and providing both parties are willing to mediate and mediation is assessed to be suitable then a joint session with the separated couple and the mediator can be arranged. The process will typically involve 2 - 4 mediation sessions and can be concluded in 2 - 3 months. In financial mediations, a tailored form of financial disclosure is exchanged as part of the information sharing process.
2. If my ex-partner contacts the mediation service will they think I am the one at fault?
No. Mediation is about working with the other party and focusing upon common interests to try to reach a workable solution for the whole family. The mediator will not take sides and will not consider either party at fault. The mediator will remain completely impartial throughout the mediation process.
3. How much will mediation cost?
Mediation is a cost effective option and many services offer fixed fees for each session. For a typical process involving an initial assessment appointment, two joint sessions and the associated documentation recording the agreement the parties would each be looking at costs in the region of £750 to £1,000 plus the costs of supporting advice from their solicitors as part of the process. Charges tend to be a fraction of the cost of contested litigation proceedings.
4. Do I have to go to Court?
If you are able to reach a successful outcome in family mediation then the mediators prepare the paperwork and send this to you and your ex-partner and your solicitors who create a legally binding version of the agreements reached within mediation. This can then be submitted to the Court for approval without having to attend at Court.
5. Where will our children live and how we do sort that out?
The process of mediation focuses upon parties establishing a dialogue as parents and working together for the benefit of their children going forward. In certain circumstances specially trained accredited family mediators can consult with children on a confidential basis as part of the mediation process so that children's voices are heard and parents can then listen to concerns and work together to minimise any worries going forward.
6. Who decides how financial issues are resolved?
In family mediation, the parties remain in control of the process. The mediator does not decide what is going to happen but rather facilitates discussions between the parties to generate and consider options and to come up with their own resolution as to the financial matters associated with their relationship.
7. If I go through mediation can I still get divorced?
Yes. Family mediation does not stop you from getting divorced. Within the mediation room you and your spouse can discuss whether you would like to start divorce proceedings, who will be the petitioner and who will be the respondent, who will pay the costs etc.
8. How can we help?
As family lawyers and accredited family mediators we assist you under a variety of methods. There are occasions when family mediation and/other forms of dispute resolution methods such as collaborative law or round table meetings are simply not tenable and the assistance of the Court is required. For the majority of separating families however the option of retaining control over their own futures and minimising costs is a very attractive option and one which is embraced within the family mediation process.
At Consilia Mediation we offer a fully accredited all issues family mediation service including direct consultation with children.
For more information about family mediation and how we can help please contact Sally Clark or Laura Clapton on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website for further information www.consiliamediation.co.uk.