Family Mediation Week – 16 to 20 January
This week is Family Mediation Week so there could not be a better time to be talking about and highlighting all of the benefits of mediation! Family Mediation Week is organised by the Family Mediation Council to raise awareness of family mediation and the benefits it can bring to separating families.
First things first – what is Family Mediation?
A very good question! People are often not sure what goes on at mediation or exactly what it is.
Sometimes people mistakenly think mediation is for couples who are trying to get back together or that it is a form of couple’s counselling. It is neither of these things.
Family mediators are professionally trained to help separated couples discuss and resolve arrangements for financial and children matters. The mediator is there to help the separated couple find solutions and make decisions for the future that work for both of them.
Okay…. but how does mediation work – what does it look like?
Firstly, there would be an initial meeting with the mediator alone. This is so you can find out more detail about the mediation process, what the alternative options to mediation are and the mediator can answer any questions you may have. At the meeting, the mediator will also ask questions and assess whether the circumstances are suitable for mediation.
After that meeting, if appropriate, the mediator will invite the other person to attend an initial individual meeting with the mediator too.
After the mediator has carried out initial individual meetings with each person, if both people then wish to go ahead with mediation and if mediation is suitable, a joint meeting will be arranged with both people and the mediator.
Depending upon how much there is to discuss at mediation, there may be one joint meeting or several joint meetings.
The mediator is independent and even handed – they do not take sides. At the joint meetings, the mediator uses their professional experience and skills to help the separated couple discuss and work out arrangements for children and financial matters. The aim of the joint session(s) is for the separated couple, with the mediator’s professional help, to reach proposals and solutions that work moving forwards for them.
Sometimes, the separated couple may only use mediation to discuss children matters or may only use mediation to discuss financial matters. Alternatively, the separated couple may wish to use mediation to discuss both children and financial matters.
The mediation process is flexible and can be structured in a tailor-made way, so as to suit the individual circumstances of the separated couple. For example, if the mediator considers appropriate, the separated couple do not have to be in the same room as each other. Mediation can take place by either ‘in person’ meetings or by video meetings.
This sounds good…what are the other benefits of Family Mediation?
There are lots of benefits of Family Mediation and that could form a whole separate blog in itself! However, some of the main ones include:
- Cost – the cost of attending mediation is significantly cheaper than the legal costs (solicitor/barrister costs) of Court proceedings. At Maguire Family Law, to help separated couples benefit from mediation, for a limited time, we are offering the first joint session of mediation at no charge.
- Less stressful – often, people find mediation significantly less stressful than going to Court. The mediator uses their professional skills to help the separated couple discuss, try to find solutions, and work out children and/or financial arrangements.
- Speed – mediation sessions can be arranged swiftly and around timescales that work for the separated couple. In contrast, depending on the Court’s availability, there may be a delay between making an application to Court and a first hearing being listed and if more than one hearing is required in Court proceedings, there may also be months of time between hearings too.
- Flexible and tailor made – the mediator and separated couple will set an agenda for discussion at each joint meeting and mediation sessions will be arranged flexibly and around timescales that work for the separated couple. The means the separated couple can prioritise discussing what is most important to them in their circumstances and at timescales that work for them. This is in contrast to Court proceedings where the Court may only have a limited amount of time to consider the case and where due to other cases, there may be delays in the case being listed for a hearing. Practically speaking, mediation sessions are also arranged at a time and place to suit both individuals too. This is in contrast to Court proceedings where the parties are not in control of when/where hearings may be listed.
- Mediation can be used to narrow issues – even if not used to resolve all issues, mediation can be an extremely useful way to narrow issues in dispute. This can save time, stress and cost as the issues to be resolved outside of mediation have been identified and reduced.
- Mediation can be used to deal with issues that may not be suitable for Court or solicitor correspondence – individuals in mediation can use it to discuss whatever issues are important to them. This may involve discussing specific things in relation to children, for example, how individuals would like to parent children post separation, discussing proposals on how to tell children about separation etc. These important issues can be discussed in a private, neutral space with the assistance of a mediator who can help individuals put their children’s welfare at the heart of those discussions.
- Communication – mediation facilitates conversation and discussion between the individuals, to assist them in reaching proposals at mediation so they can move forwards. Mediation promotes communication and this can be extremely beneficial for separated parents (and their children) who are going to have a co-parenting relationship moving forwards.
- Choice – attending mediation is voluntary and a choice – one person cannot make the other person take part in mediation.
- Control – The choices and decisions at mediation are made by the separated couple – the mediator will not tell the individuals what to do. The mediator will use their professional skills and work hard to help the separated couple discuss matters and reach solutions and proposals.
How do I get in touch if I have more questions about mediation and think it might be suitable for me?
Honor Giles is the Mediator at Maguire Family Law and a member of Resolution. In addition to her role as Mediator, Honor also works as a Solicitor and is a Partner in the team. Honor’s significant experience in family law, in both children and financial matters, is invaluable when helping separating couples in Mediation. If you wish to find out more about mediation and how it could help you, please do not hesitate to contact Honor Giles on 01565 743 302 or email@example.com
For specialist advice on any family law related issue contact Maguire Family Law by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: