Family Mediation has been in the media this week with a new series focusing upon families going through the process of Family Mediation. The public often confuse the process of family mediation with counselling and other forms of relationship saving forms of support such as Relate and Couples Therapy.
Whilst the process of family mediation has a focus, particularly where children are involved, of assisting parents to work upon their dialogue as parents for the benefit of their children the process is a future focused one.
The primary object is to assist couples/family members resolve issues and move forwards with their respective lives through sorting out practical issues such as arrangements for the care of their children and, in financial mediation, how to achieve a financial settlement, as opposed to achieving reconciliation/re-kindling of a relationship in its current form.
Some commentators on social media have questioned whether this negates the need for each party to receive legal advice. Family Mediation is not an alternative to legal advice and the process works far better, particularly in financial mediations where each party has their independent legal advisor assisting them as part of the process. Parties are encouraged to take advice from their lawyers in between sessions and on occasions lawyers are present during the sessions.
Family mediators can provide legal information however they must remain impartial at all times and the role of the mediator is not to advise but rather to assist/facilitate parties to achieve their own resolution and retain ownership of decisions which will impact on their lives going forward.
There are a number of mediation organisations throughout the UK. Not all family mediators are lawyers and some mediators come from backgrounds such as social work, therapeutic intervention and a host of other disciplines. All organisations are however regulated by the Family Mediation Council and all family mediators if they wish to carry out work as accredited mediators (i.e work to the accredited standard and have the authority to sign Court forms) must have passed the accreditation process and have a registered number.
Family mediation can take place with parties sitting around a table or on occasion in different rooms, as highlighted in the current television series. Family mediators can on occasion and where they have undertaken a specialist further accreditation speak to children as part of the process. Mediation can involve other professionals such as Pension Advisors/ Independent Financial Advisors/Barristers/Life coaches in addition to lawyers and they can assist the parties in mediation being able to reach cost effective and creative solutions.
Family mediation is not an easy option for parties with issues to resolve. It is however an option which qualitatively assists people to resolve issues without becoming involved in protracted and costly court room battles and where children are involved parents/other family members to work together going forward for the benefit of their children.
Family Mediation is recognised by the Family Courts as being the first forum parties should engage in prior to issuing any Court application in private children and/or financial remedy matters save for in a number of defined exceptional circumstances. Family Mediation is also one of the very few forums through which individuals who meet the financial eligibility criteria can access public funding through the Legal Aid Agency to assist with funding through the process.
For more information on family mediation contact Sally Clark or Laura Clapton at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us on 0113 357 1315. At Consilia Mediation we hold a Legal Aid Franchise for Family Mediation and can assist with funding where parties meet the funding criteria. We also offer Direct Child Consultation and are fully accredited mediation service.