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By Louise Martin, Solicitor, Director & Family Mediator

Ahead of Family Mediation Week next week (22nd – 26th January), Family Mediator Louise Martin considers: what is family mediation and how can it help in family disputes?

What is Family Mediation?

Separating is never easy, especially when children are involved. There are various different processes to help a separated couple resolve their issues: collaborative law, arbitration, solicitors, or there is family mediation.

Separation will mean that a couple must find a way to split a joint financial household into two whilst still living as comfortably as possible.

There may be child arrangements to think about and, irrespective of the uncertainty the separation brings, separated parents have to make important decisions about their children, which involves finding a way to communicate in a constructive way.

For most people, they are concerned about costs. Their finances may be under more strain, and the thought of adding expensive legal bills or court proceedings can feel overwhelming.

So, why might family mediation work for you?

Benefits of Family Mediation

There are many reasons that mediation may work for separating couples. These include:

1. You call the shots. The family mediator is a facilitator and plays an important role in managing and guiding the discussions that the couple has between them. The mediator is not the judge but will instead work with the couple in a neutral way.

2. Discussions are without prejudice and confidential. This allows frank conversations, to lay the cards on the table, so to speak, and to get to the real issues. Sometimes, the stumbling blocks to reaching certain outcomes can be something else entirely.

3. You dictate the pace. There are no court timetables to adhere to, and you can move as quickly or slowly as you like, diaries permitting.

4. It enables conversation. I have heard time and time again family law judges in children cases telling the parties that it is up to them to make decisions for their own children. This means finding a way to communicate effectively, something that works for them. Mediation can help with this.

5. It’s voluntary. An important feature of mediation is that it is entirely voluntary. Both parties come to the table freely and willingly, or not at all.

6. It is cheaper than court. It is widely considered that family mediation is cheaper than the host of legal costs that can come with instructing solicitors and counsel, paying court fees, etc.


MIAM – Family Mediation Assessment Meetings

It is a requirement, other than in a handful of cases, to attend a mediation first appointment, known as a MIAM, to qualify to make an application to the family court in respect of child arrangements or in respect of resolving finances on divorce.

If mediation is suitable, the mediator will invite the other party to the MIAM and, thereafter, joint sessions. If it is not suitable, or both parties are not willing to engage, the mediator can give the client a certificate enabling them to make their application to the court.

Family mediation will not always be suitable for everyone, and the mediator will determine suitability at the MIAM. It may also be helpful to combine mediation with getting legal advice, as the mediator will not provide legal advice to the parties.

Find out more about family mediation here.

Family Mediator Shropshire

Louise Martin trained as a Resolution mediator in 2016 and established a private mediation practice at Onions & Davies Ltd during that time.

She is skilled in family law, enabling her to help mediation clients reach outcomes for the benefit of themselves and their families.

For an appointment with Louise or to discuss mediation further, please telephone Sharon on 01630 411226.