Having a relationship break down is never going to be an easy time for anyone. Throw in the prospect of a lengthy bitter court battle and suddenly the picture may become even bleaker. The good news is that court isn’t the only option – mediation may just be the answer.
Here is a quick guide to the main stages of the mediation process:
- REFERRAL - Either party or their respective solicitor makes a referral to a local family mediation service.
- MIAM - Each party attends an individual Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). The aim of this meeting is to assess whether mediation will be suitable for the issues at hand. If assessed as not suitable, or one party doesn’t wish to attend, we can provide you with either a C100 form (children) or Form A (finances) to enable you to issue court proceedings.
- JOINT SESSION - If assessed as suitable and both parties are willing to attend, a joint session will be set up to allow the parties to sit together with a mediator and put their respective views across. The aim of these sessions is to narrow down the issues between the parties and reach an overall agreement which both parties are happy with going forward.
- DOCUMENTING THE AGREEMENT – Once an agreement has been reached, it will be documented in writing by way of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and an Open Financial Statement (OFS). It is important to note that these documents are not legally binding and you will need to take them to a solicitor if you want to formalise the agreement e.g. draw up a consent order.
So why choose to go down the mediation route?
- QUICK– The mediation process generally takes around 2-4 joint sessions that can be concluded within a couple of months unlike court proceedings that can go on for years depending on the complexity of the case.
- COST EFFECTIVE – Mediation can cost a fraction of the price of going to court as costs are limited to the mediation sessions and the final documents. This is in stark contrast to the expense of solicitors and court fees.
- FLEXBILE – You are in control of when the sessions take place and what happens during them rather than being bound by court timetables and directions.
- POSITIVE FOCUS - Mediation seeks to facilitate positive dialogue between you and the other party in order to enable you to reach an agreement amicably rather than focusing on shifting the blame.
It goes without saying that mediation might not be appropriate in all cases. However, in the majority of cases, the old saying “you won’t know unless you try” rings very true. Cynics may say mediation is a waste of time if you are at war with the other party. As mediators we’d say, if you go in with an open mind with a view to the future, you may just end up surprising yourself…
For more information or to make a referral to our mediation service in Leeds or Harrogate please contact us on 0113 322 9222 or firstname.lastname@example.org