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Mediation

Dealing with family law issues can be a difficult and stressful time making negotiations complicated especially if relationships are already fraught. Determining how assets and finances should be divided, as well as what happens to any children, can seem like a legal nightmare. If the situation is not dealt with appropriately, already fragile relationships can be further damaged, making matters far worse. However, one form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is mediation, which is an option in almost all family law cases that can be used to aid the process and reduce tensions between the parties, while avoiding the need for litigation, which can be both costly and lengthy. The use of mediation can help the parties to agree on issues and resolve the matters affecting them and their families in a way that is agreeable to them both. This is a sensitive area of law and one that requires expert mediators to help you through the process. Here we look at the uses and benefits of mediation.

What is Mediation and why is it useful?

Mediation can be used for any family law matter, including divorce, resolution of financial or property disputes, child arrangements including residency, custody and contact issues and relocation. It is a voluntary process that is encouraged by the Courts and is aimed at trying to reach a mutually agreed decision between the parties without the need for court proceedings. Mediation is not just an option, in certain proceedings, such as divorce, the parties must have tried mediation before they opt for using the Courts to resolve their financial issues. Mediation can be used to solve all types of issues, including future parenting arrangements, how financial matters will be organised in the future, contact issues for the children, such as with grandparents or other extended family members and arrangements relating to a divorce.

Mediation usually involves the parties meeting together in a room with a mediator assisting with the discussions. The mediator assists the parties in discussing their issues and helps find a solution that works for both parties. Unlike in a Court case, the parties can choose the mediator that they want to use, resulting in a higher level of involvement and control by the parties as opposed to a court case where the matter is decided by a Judge. There is not a set time when mediation can be used – it can be used at the start of the process or towards the end, if this is deemed suitable.

The use of mediation can reduce costs and the length of the process. It is generally a less aggressive option than going through the courts and can try and preserve relationships and keep things as amicable as possible. By reducing the stresses of the parties involved in the process, this, in turn, should benefit other family members, such as any children involved. The process is extremely flexible and can be adapted to suit the needs and requirements of the parties. It can also make the whole situation less stressful and reduce any anger between the parties. Mediation encourages the parties to discuss and clarify the issues and explore what options would work in practice. Where agreement is reached, it will be recorded in a document known as a “memorandum of understanding”. This can be made into a legally binding document (this is advisable where the document covers finances) by the parties using a solicitor to have it issued as a court order.

Mediation is still a legal process that follows a similar procedure as used in the Courts. Parties have to give full and frank disclosure during the mediation of their finances and any other relevant information. The mediator will ensure that the interests and wishes of any children are taken into account. Children over the age of ten years old should be offered the chance to attend the mediation and state their views personally.

One factor of mediation that often appeals is that it is confidential or “without prejudice”. This means that anything discussed during the sessions cannot be used in Court if the parties later need to go down that route. This allows the parties to be generally more open and honest, especially where they require privacy and discretion in relation to the information disclosed, which in turn is more likely to result in an agreement being reached.

Do I need a lawyer as well as the mediator?

The purpose of the mediator is to help the parties come to an agreement over the relevant issues. However, the mediator cannot advise either party as to what they should do or what is in their best interests. In order to make sure that your interests are properly protected, it is always advisable that you take the advice of a specialist mediation lawyer who can advise you on your options throughout the whole process. By taking expert advice, you will know what issues are likely to arise and what you should be considered during the mediation. It will also prevent you from ending up with an unfair agreement since the mediator will not be able to advise you if this is the case, since they have to remain neutral. Our specialist mediation lawyers can assist you from the start of the process until it has been finalised. We can also make sure any agreement is turned into a legally enforceable court order to ensure that your rights are fully protected.

Contact our Expert Mediation Lawyers Bradford Today

This area of law requires a high level of expertise together with an approach that is both sensitive to the difficulties of these cases as well as practical. When a party decides to separate, the mixture of uncertainty surrounding the parties’ future combined with high emotions can make the process of discussing issues very difficult. Family mediation is a very good solution here and can help the parties work through the issues with a trained and neutral mediator who can help the parties come to a resolution on issues surrounding their finances and children. Although mediation is a more informal process, you should still always get expert legal advice from a specialist lawyer on the process and whether your case is suitable. Our expert lawyers can assist you throughout the process, as well as referring you to an experienced mediator that would be suitable for your case.

Call us on 01274 350 546 or fill out our online enquiry form.

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