What is Mediation?
Family mediation helps couples to explore and examine the issues which arise for them when they separate and/or divorce, with a view to finding solutions. This could involve the future arrangements for the children and/or how the finances and property are going to be shared.
In mediation couples work with a mediator who uses their experience and skill to help couples to co-operate, resolve conflict and reach a mutually acceptable way forward. Mediators do not give advice and do not impose terms.
Mediation is not reconciliation or counselling. The mediation process is confidential and is not legally binding. However after couples have had the opportunity to take legal advice on their proposals, a legally binding document can be drawn up as required. It is recommended that this is drafted by a solicitor.
Mediation and/or seeking legal advice from your own solicitor are best seen not as an “either or”. They are two different services that together offer a cost-effective and quicker resolution.
Before issuing an application to the court with regard to the arrangements for children or financial aspects of divorce, each party, except in certain specified circumstances, is expected to give full consideration as to whether mediation, or other forms of alternative dispute resolution, may be suitable for their case and attend an assessment meeting with a mediator, either on their own, or with their spouse or partner to find out more about the mediation process. This meeting is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting [ "MIAM"]. The court has issued a “Pre-Application Protocol” setting out what is required. For more information about MIAMs please see the mediation information and assessment meetings article in Resources.
What are the benefits of Mediation?
- Helps couples to communicate and co-operate
- Helps couples examine their various options
- Helps couples appreciate and consider the needs of the children
- Helps couples make decisions on an informed basis
- Solutions are tailor made to each couples particular requirements
- It enables couples to be responsible for the solutions reached
- It is cost-effective and generally less expensive than going to court
- Experience also suggests that agreements reached direct work better than orders imposed by a court and that children flourish more when their parents cooperate with each other
What issues can be dealt with in Mediation?
You can examine any issue you wish including:
- The terms of separation/divorce
- The arrangements for the children
- How the finances and property should be shared
- Maintenance arrangements and child support
How does the Mediation process work?
Couples can contact the mediator direct to make an appointment. Alternatively, some couples are referred to mediation by their solicitor and will have had some legal advice before starting mediation. Couples will be encouraged to seek independent legal advice from a solicitor both during and after the mediation process.
Mediation is ordinarily undertaken with the couple in joint meetings with the mediator, though exceptionally in some cases the mediator may arrange separate meetings with each party. In this event, special arrangements will be discussed and agreed with regard to the way in which confidentiality and other arrangements will apply.
Solicitors do not usually attend mediation meetings. In some circumstances, if the couple agree, they may be invited to do so. Solicitors can advise their clients between meetings as the mediation progresses and sometimes the mediator may suggest this. In all cases couples will not be required to reach any complete and binding agreements until both parties have had the opportunity to review the proposed terms of settlement with their own solicitors.
The first meeting between the couple and the mediator is arranged. The mediator will send the couple an Agreement to Mediate setting out the ground rules of mediation to consider in advance. If financial issues are being discussed the mediation process starts with the disclosure of all financial information. The mediator will provide a standard form to assist with disclosure. The mediator’s role is to facilitate open and free discussion and to assist to the couple find proposals which are acceptable to them both.
If acceptable terms are arrived at, the mediator will prepare a written summary of the proposals together with details of the financial disclosure for the parties to consider and discuss with their own solicitors. After the couples have each had the opportunity to take legal advice, if they are both still content with the proposals their lawyers will convert the summary into a legally binding document and carry out any necessary implementation.
What does Mediation cost and how long does it take?
The length of each session is up to the couple; but the recommended time is usually 1½ hours. If couples require a shorter meeting or a longer one, this can be arranged. The number of sessions depends on the couple and the issues to be resolved. On average, between three to six sessions is needed.
Mediators charge for the time they spend with the couple and for the drafting of any summaries required.
Kim Finnis offers a fixed fee arrangement for mediation services of £294.00 per hour [£245.00 plus VAT ]. A standard 1 ½ hour session works out at £441.00 [ £367.50 plus VAT]. Fees are payable at the end of each session and can be shared equally between the couple, or in any way the couple agree.
Kim Finnis does not offer public funding [legal aid], however public funding is available to clients who are financially eligible, to meet the costs of mediation and legal advice in support, You can find out if you are eligible for public funding and/or obtain the details of a mediation service that offers public funding at www.gov.uk.
Kim Finnis is a Resolution Accredited Family Law Mediator, a Resolution Accredited Family Law Specialist and a Collaborative Lawyer.
For more information about the mediation process or to arrange a session contact Kim Finnis on 01483 539100.