Mediation is an important part of the process when it comes to divorce or any other disagreement that cannot be resolved without expert help. It is a voluntary form of alternative dispute resolution, designed to help the different parties involved come to a mutually acceptable agreement about what should happen about the important aspects of a divorce or separation, including child residency arrangements, holiday childcare and ongoing access arrangements, as well as division of assets and future plans for, e.g. care for other family dependents or what needs to happen to larger assets from the partnership or marriage, such as property or business interests.
Typically, a mediation session is led by a trained third party who helps lead the negotiations and keeps things on track, aiming to disarm any sources of tension and to keep everyone’s emotions in check and minds on the task at hand. The mediator will not take sides and is present in the room to reduce conflict and avoid unnecessary delays in processing a divorce or legal separation. If you trust in their judgement and expertise, your mediator will be a huge help to you and your family to make sure you stay in control and are agreeable and confident about what is going to happen next.
Why choose mediation?
Quite apart from the benefits of having a disinterested, non-biased mediator in the room with you to help move negotiations along and to reduce any tension involved, mediation can prove a highly cost-effective way to resolve a dispute, especially if you compare it to the far higher costs of a long and drawn-out hostile divorce. The law courts look more favourably on couples who have at least attempted mediation prior to moving to the divorce stage as it shows that you are both willing to discuss your situation in a mature, measured fashion and have a desire to keep control over your situation and its outcomes, rather than seeing things move into the hands of the court to decide.
It can also help you sort out multiple decisions in the immediate aftermath of a split, which keeps everyone calmer and more at ease with what can be significant changes ahead. In some cases, it can help children who are old enough to understand the implications to have a say in what happens to them, in terms of where they are going to live and with whom, where they will attend school and how much access they will have to their non-residential parent or other family members. After agreements have been reached, these can be drawn up into legally binding arrangements, or used as an informal basis for future discussions or arrangements, post-split.
What can you expect?
Once you have decided to attend mediation to try and resolve your dispute, an appointment will be made for you to attend your first session. Here, you will meet your mediator, who will explain the process to you and ask if you have any questions. You can stop at any time and ask for a break. Your mediator will be trained to spot any signs of discomfort and will know how to keep discussions on an even keel. Each party will have the opportunity to give their point of view and say
what they would like to happen next. Different options will be discussed and the possible consequences explored to ensure a full and frank conversation.
After the mediation session, a decision will be taken regarding whether or not further sessions will be required. If so, these will be booked and the process will continue for as long as is required to reach resolution. Notes can be taken and circulated to remind everyone about what was discussed and to act as a starting point for any further meetings or discussions.