It is Family Mediation Week this week, an initiative by the Family Mediation Council to raise awareness of family mediation.
There is no single route through a divorce or separation. Even in the most difficult cases, mediation can be an effective tool for unlocking a financial deal or agreeing arrangements for children. When utilised properly, mediation can provide parties with a safe space to air their concerns and discuss ways forward, in sessions lead by a mediator whose role is to assist the negotiation in a fair and neutral way.
Parties do not necessarily need to choose between court, solicitor led negotiations or mediation. Many of our cases draw on a combination of the three to achieve the best outcomes for our clients. This may mean issuing court proceedings to have the benefit of a court timetable or agreeing to voluntarily exchange financial information and then heading into mediation and negotiations.
Parties who are able, with advice and support from their lawyers, to identify an acceptable solution may find their dispute resolved more quickly and are likely to save legal fees. A mutually acceptable compromise is also said to be longer-lasting than decisions which are imposed by a judge at a final hearing.
Mediation itself can take many forms. A typical mediation may involve the two parties in a room with the mediator. But solicitor-led mediation includes the solicitors in the room, so that the parties are supported during the meeting. They can also break out into separate rooms to take legal advice as they go and have the benefit of their lawyers’ guidance as to the likely range of outcomes if the matter proceeds to court. Where the parties do not wish to sit together but still wish to find an agreed way forward, shuttle mediation has them sitting apart in different rooms with the mediator ‘shuttling’ between them and can be just as effective in breaking through even the most entrenched positions. Likewise, with video conferencing, there is no need for the parties to be in the same room or even the same country.
This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
© Farrer & Co LLP, January 2023