Family mediation services

  • Overview

    Family mediation is a confidential process in which an impartial, independent mediator works together with parents or separating partners to explore the options for an agreement. The parties have full control over the decision-making process and the mediator provides information and guidance to support them in evaluating what makes the most sense to them. Parties have the freedom to explore all the options as the confidentiality of mediation means that readiness to consider a particular option cannot later be held against a party in court.

    Mediation is conducted through a series of fixed cost face to face meetings. Each party first attends their own individual assessment meeting which lasts about an hour. After that, they attend the sessions together. The meetings are conducted with the parties in the same room wherever possible but there is also the option for the parties to have their own separate rooms and for the mediator to 'shuttle' between them. These meetings generally last an hour and a half and it typically takes between two and six meetings to arrive at a proposed agreement.

    The cost of meetings is shared equally between the parties, although alternative arrangements can be agreed.

    At the end of the mediation process, the mediator produces a 'memorandum of understanding' setting out the proposals the parties suggest should form part of an agreement. It is always recommended that independent legal advice is sought on these proposals before putting them into a formal agreement.

    Mediation is suitable for the divorce process, reaching a financial settlement on divorce, working out arrangements for children and disagreements relating to property ownership. All the work is conducted within the meetings and both parties receive the same information and guidance.

    Mediation is an entirely voluntary process and no-one can be forced to engage in it. The court does, however, require anyone considering issuing financial remedy proceedings on divorce or issuing an application regarding arrangements for a child to first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (a MIAM). The MIAM is designed to help people understand whether mediation could be the right forum for resolving their disagreement. It is not suitable in every situation but is accepted as being a far cheaper and quicker way of resolving a disagreement than via a court application.

    Frequently asked questions

    • Why mediate?

      Cost – mediation is far cheaper than instructing solicitors within the court process. You are likely, however, to still incur some legal fees as we would always advise you to seek independent legal advice on your proposed agreement and if this results in a financial agreement on divorce, a court order will need to be prepared by your solicitor.

      Timing – you can arrange mediation sessions at your mutual convenience. There can be long stretches of time between court hearings.

      Commitment – there is nothing forcing you to choose mediation so if people do agree to mediate it generally means that they are invested in the process and have the confidence to make it work.

      Control – no decision is going to be forced upon you by a mediator as it would be by a judge.

      Confidentiality – discussions in mediation are 'without prejudice' if you explore an option in mediation it cannot be ‘used against you’ in court.

      Impartiality – although the mediator is deeply invested in helping you to reach an agreement, the mediator will not take sides but will challenge you based on their experience of what the realistic outcomes

      Child-focused – If your disagreement regards your children, or is escalating in a way that may impact on them, the good news is that in mediation children come first.

    • How much does mediation cost?

      Assessment meetings to decide whether mediation is suitable for you and your situation are £180 (£150 plus VAT). Each client needs to attend a separate assessment meeting.

      Mediation sessions after the assessment meeting are charged at £210 (£175 plus VAT) per person for the 90 minute session.

      The fee for preparing an Open Financial Summary and Memorandum of Understanding (setting out the proposed agreement in a financial case) is £600 (£500 plus VAT, £300 per person).

    • Who should I contact about mediation?

      You should contact Lottie Tyler on +44 (0)20 7822 1996 or lottie.tyler@weightmans.com

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