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Coming to an agreement through mediation

This week has been dedicated to raising awareness of Family Mediation and the way in which it can help separating couples arrive at agreements regarding the arrangements for their children and their financial affairs.

Despite the lockdown, mediation is able to continue remotely and many mediations have concluded successfully over the last year, enabling parents to retain control of the outcome of their separation. Many couples have reported preferring to mediate remotely and have been able to participate as freely as they would have done if they had actually been sat in the same room as their former partner.

Family Mediation remains a voluntary process although a person who believes they may need to make an application to the Court about their children or financial matters is obliged to attend an individual Mediation Information and Assessment meeting (MIAM) to find out whether mediation may represent a better option than Court proceedings. The MIAM enables the mediator to explain the process and assess its suitability for the particular circumstances the person has found themselves in.

A Family Mediator is impartial and as such, cannot give legal advice. However, there is a wealth of information which mediators can provide to the couple which can help them find the best solution for themselves and their family. Mediators encourage couples to seek legal advice alongside the process to support them with the discussions. Those discussions are also confidential (subject to some sensible exceptions including disclosing any safeguarding concerns and ensuring financial disclosure is provided openly) which enable the couple to explore a range of options with the mediator’s help in a safe, supportive environment. Any proposals arrived at mediation are not legally binding but can be converted into an appropriately, binding document by solicitors assisting the couple.

The process is designed to keep the decision-making in the hands of the couple and helps avoid the uncertainty and delay caused by the Court process. It is also more cost-effective, with charges for mediation lower than solicitors’ costs.

Mediation, particularly for separating parents, is also able to help improve communication which is often difficult when emotions are running high. Parents are able to work on a Parenting Plan as part of the mediation to help with decision-making, particularly in the early days of their separation, on matters such as the care arrangements, schooling and health.

 

For more details of how we can help with Family Mediation, please contact Helen Cankett on 07885 881572 or email helen.cankett@bpe.co.uk

For more details on the events being held this week, visit www.familymediationweek.org.uk

 

These notes have been prepared for the purpose of articles only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.

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