The benefits of mediation.
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential way to resolve family disputes.
Mediation is an ideal solution whether the disputes are concerning children, housing and/or finances and come without the worry, expense and adversarial nature of litigation and Court appearances.
Regrettably, there is no Legal Aid for mediation services but we do offer a range of fixed fees.
Partner Ed Rawlins heads our expert Family Mediation Team and has over 20 years of experience working in family law and mediation
Family mediation is open to any members of a family who have a dispute they need to resolve. Family mediation usually takes place in divorce proceedings – providing a means by which to resolve issues around finance, children and property – but can also take place between wider family members. For example, grandparents may seek family mediation to arrange time when they can see their grandchildren following the breakdown in the parents’ relationship.
When couples decide to end their relationship mediation can help them to work through together arrangements for children, property and finances and any other consideration relevant to the family. A mediator is impartial and is trained to help and assist them to find solutions that they can both agree upon. When couples decide to end their relationship mediation can help them to work through together arrangements for children, property and finances and any other consideration relevant to the family. A mediator is impartial and is trained to help and assist them to find solutions that they can both agree upon.
The mediation process
Family mediation is governed by four principles:
- mediation is voluntary, both parties and the mediator have to agree mediation is suitable;
- mediation is confidential, except where there are concerns of risk of their being harm to a child or vulnerable adult or a criminal offence;
- the mediator is impartial, he/she facilitates negotiation having to maintain the trust and confidence of both people;
- decision making rests with the participants to the mediation.
These four principles are central to the practice of family mediators in England & Wales.
Working within these principles ensures that mediation provides a highly effective non-court dispute resolution process.
This is sometimes referred to as the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
At this meeting our mediator will provide information about the process of mediation and other forms of family dispute resolution;
- start to clarify the areas where there are disputes, and provide options for resolving them;
- identify other sources of support including financial, emotional and legal;
- At the MIAM our mediator will talk to you about your concerns and your immediate priorities, with the aim of setting an agenda for areas to be negotiated. This typically includes children, finance and property issues. Discussions will take place with each person separately until or unless it is recognised to be appropriate for a full mediation session to take place together.
As well as providing information about what mediation can provide, the mediator is making an assessment about a person’s ability to mediate. Mediation will not take place until the ‘agreement to mediate’ is in place and signed by all parties.
By signing the agreement to mediate, those involved understand that all communications, (except the disclosure of financial information) are made solely for the purpose of attempting to reach a settlement and are made on the basis that the communications are:
- will not be referred to in evidence in any court proceedings about the same issues;
- will not be used in affidavits or statements.
This promise of confidentiality does not prevent the mediator disclosing information where there is significant risk to the life, health or safety of children, the parties, or anyone else, or in relation to money laundering/other unlawful act(s).
A court is not able to require a mediator to disclose information about any mediation which has taken place except where there is an over-riding obligation in law.
In some cases mediation might not be suitable. If mediation does not go ahead after the MIAM our family mediator can sign off the appropriate court form to enable an application to proceed to court.
If mediation goes ahead after the MIAM this takes the form of confidential joint round the table meetings between the couple and the mediator. Sessions last for the period of time those involved agree to, but often for around 90 minutes. There may be between 1-5 joint sessions depending on the issues to be resolved. Usually more than one session is required to reach an agreement that is likely to work in practice – having more than one session can also allow time for reflection and for arrangements that are being discussed to be tested.
Mediation appointments take place in a time-frame that is practical for those involved.
The benefit of a mediator with over 20 years’ of experience in family law is that impartial legal information can be provided to help couples to consider the proposals they wish to make and to achieve a realistic outcome.
Typically, a mediated settlement is achieved more quickly than one that goes through the full court process.
If agreement is reached, our mediator can be asked to draft a Memorandum of Understanding. This can be used to form the basis of a Consent Order or a binding agreement. Participants in mediation are advised to take legal advice, both during mediation and on any proposals they have made.
If full agreement is not reached then the couple can take independent legal advice and consider an application to the Court, but often the issues that cannot be settled have been narrowed through the discussions that have taken place.
If the initial meeting (MIAM) is an individual one the cost is £100 plus VAT per person. If the initial meeting (MIAM) is a joint one the cost will be £175 plus VAT.
Mediation costs after the initial meeting are dependant upon how many sessions participants agree to have. The usual cost is £120 plus VAT per hour per person.
If the initial meeting is on an individual basis, each person will pay their own costs. Joint MIAMs and the cost of any mediation that follows will be split equally between the people attending.
What does a mediator do?
A Family Mediator meets with couples to help them reach a resolution and agree a settlement. A mediator is impartial, neither deciding upon nor judging the issues, instead working to identify areas of agreement and possible solutions.
As an alternative to having an outcome imposed by a Court, mediation is a positive way to reach an agreement. The Family Courts now expect you to have tried to resolve matters through this route before you can apply for an Order concerning a child or finances.
When can mediation begin and how long does it take?
Mediation is available at the outset of, or in the midst of, a dispute. Sessions can last from one hour upwards and the venue and times can be flexibly arranged, in contrast to the restrictions and rigidity of a Court timetable. Those attending mediation can take their own legal advice at any time.
- Joint Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is £175+VAT (£210)
- Individual Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is £100+VAT (£120)
The cost of mediation sessions thereafter will be discussed with you at the MIAM.
Why chose Wilson Browne Solicitors?
Mediator Ed Rawlins has been a Family Lawyer for over 20 years. He has wealth of experience in acting for clients in resolving finance, property and children issues following relationship breakdown. As a Family mediator over the past 6 years, Ed has worked with many couples to explore with them the ways in which they can resolve their disputes.
We are able to offer mediation at anyone of our Northampton, Kettering or Higham Offices.