What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a process that families can use on the breakdown of a relationship to negotiate arrangements for finances and children with the assistance of a neutral third party.
Mediation is particularly important when dealing with matrimonial finances in divorce proceedings and where parties can come to an agreement about arrangements for the children between themselves. The court’s will always expect parties to attempt mediation before making an application to the court. The initial session of mediation is known as the Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (“MIAM”). The requirement to attend a MIAM is discharged if the matter is urgent or there is domestic abuse involved.
What are the benefits of Mediation?
Court proceedings are rarely cheap and it is a real possibility that your costs could spiral out of control if the matters remain disputed. Mediation can often work out cheaper than court proceedings. Mediation allows parties to resolve any disagreements outside of court and allows parties to remain in control of the outcome achieved and the timetable.
Are there any downsides to Mediation?
Mediation is an entirely voluntary process and both parties must want to work towards settling their disputes if mediation is to succeed. If parties are unable to reach an agreement through mediation then court proceedings are the only option to ensure the matters are settled. This can mean your costs are increased as you have paid for mediation and now for legal costs.
Any agreement reached through mediation is not legally binding therefore often agreements reached in relation to the finances will need to be formalised by a legally binding document known as a Consent Order along with an application to the court to approve this document.
Can I get assistance with mediation costs?
Yes! Recently the Ministry of Justice Mediation announced a voucher scheme where the government has provided the Family Mediation Council with £1 million pounds to help couples who wish to mediate regarding children matters. If an application for mediation funding on your behalf is successful, you could receive up to £500 voucher per case towards your joint mediation sessions.
For more information about the Mediation Voucher scheme, click here.
Before you commence mediation, it is a good idea to have some legal advice so that you know what to expect and what your rights are etc. HMG can provide that initial advice during our fixed fee consultations (£120 plus VAT) which ensures you are starting mediation informed and with your eyes open.