advantages of mediation
Family law  |  Family Mediation  |  Mediation

Family Mediation Week: What are the Advantages of Mediation?

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Walker Family Law
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The 16th to the 23rd of January is Family Mediation Week 2023. Family Mediation Week is organised by the Family Mediation Council (‘FMC’), a not-for-profit organisation that maintains a professional register of family mediators. Its aim is to raise awareness of family mediation and to highlight the advantages of mediation for separating families.advantages of mediation

Our Family Mediators are Lisa Holden and Ian Walker, both of whom are accredited to provide Family Mediation by the FMC.

So, what exactly is Family Mediation, and what are its advantages?

What is Family Mediation?

The first thing to note is that mediation is nothing to do with reconciliation. This is a common misconception, probably caused by the similarity of the two words. Mediation is for resolving problems after it has become clear that the relationship has ended.

Mediation is a way of resolving disputes over arrangements for children or finances following the end of a relationship, without having to ask a court to decide the matter.

Mediation is a process where the dispute is referred to a trained mediator, who will mediate between the parties, to help them resolve the dispute by agreement.

Mediation is purely voluntary – it will only take place if both parties agree, and will stop if either party wishes to withdraw from the process.

The process will usually involve one or more face-to-face meetings, and if agreement can be reached the mediator will prepare a written summary of the agreement at the end of the process. The agreement may then need to be incorporated into a court order.

The mediator cannot provide legal advice to the parties, but the parties may seek legal advice of their own, at any stage of the process.

Mediation does involve a fee, but legal aid is available, subject to means.

The Advantages of Mediation

Mediation has many advantages over going to court, including:

Less conflict and stress – Using an adversarial process, contested family court proceedings can greatly increase the conflict between the parties, and be extremely stressful for all concerned, including any children. Mediation, on the other hand, helps to reduce conflict, and is far less stressful.

Improves communication – Mediation encourages the parties to deal with each other, which can lead to long-term improvement in the way that they communicate. This is especially beneficial where there are children, as obviously the parties may need to communicate with one another for years to come.

Quicker and simpler – The mediation process is much quicker than going through court. Contested family court proceedings relating to child arrangements, for example, are currently taking 45 weeks on average. Mediation will usually take much less than that. And the process is far simpler than the complicated process involved in court proceedings.

Cheaper – As mentioned above, mediation does involve a fee, but it is still going to be very much cheaper than contested court proceedings.

Flexible – Court proceedings involve a set timetable, imposed by the court. In mediation, on the other hand, the process is entirely flexible, with the parties setting the agenda, for example as to how many meetings will be involved, and when they will take place.

The result you want – Mediation is all about resolving disputes by agreement. This means that you will get the result you want, rather than have the court impose a decision that neither party may want.

Private – Lastly, the mediation process is completely private and confidential. You do not have to ‘air your dirty linen’ in a courtroom, or risk confidential information being made public.

In short, if you are involved in a family dispute in connection with arrangements for your children or sorting out finances on divorce then you should give very serious consideration to referring the dispute to mediation, rather than going to court.

Ian Walker Family Law & Mediation Solicitors are award-winning family solicitors and are recognised as one of the leading family law firms in the South West of England with services covering family law & mediation, divorce, child law, and arbitration. For expert advice, please contact the team.