How can mediation help in divorce?
When you are unable to sort things out between yourselves, then it is worth considering mediation. Mediation is a means of talking to your partner in the presence of an independent professional, a mediator. It should not be confused with counselling or marriage guidance which deal with your emotions and your relationships. If you go to mediation, it assumes that your relationship has broken down and that you both wish to attempt to sort out any disputes you may have regarding your children, your home, finances or legal practicalities. Mediation looks at ways of resolving disputes as a result of your relationship break-up. Mediation is seen as a way of avoiding the court process. It can avoid much stress, time and money.
Are there winners and losers?
At the end of mediation, you should feel that you are neither a winner nor a loser, but that you have come to a sensible arrangement that you can both live with. In other words, it helps to sort out a workable compromise.
What is the advantage?
Mediation can help to reduce tension, anger and misunderstandings and improve communication between you and your partner. And communication is, after all, vital when trying to reach a settlement. This is especially important if you have children as you will probably have to co-operate over their care and upbringing for some years to come.
Can children use mediation too?
Some mediators, including National Family Mediation, also offer services for children. Most children, usually from the age of six, benefit by being able to discuss their feelings with someone outside their family. After discussing their feelings, usually including fears of abandonment, anger and sadness, children can then get back to being children.
Would mediation suit me?
You can use mediation whether or not you are married and whether or not you have children. It can be used at any stage in your negotiations if you both feel that it could help. A mediator is trained to create and maintain a sense of balance in your discussions but if domestic violence is an issue, you should consult a solicitor for advice. You both have to come to the negotiating table on equal terms and be willing to share information with each other. If you want to use mediation but don't want your partner to know your address or phone number, you should tell the mediator at once. You can also request a separate waiting area before meeting with your mediator.
Would I still need a solicitor?
In most cases, yes. Mediators can give you general information about the law but they cannot give you personal advice. It is best to see a solicitor before and during the mediation process so that he can tell you what your rights are and where you stand on financial issues. It could be a thankless task if you reach agreement without independent legal advice as this could be challenged in court at a later date. You may be loosing patience with all these procedures and may wish to bring them to a conclusion but always rely on your own personal lawyer. You will also need a solicitor to draw up any agreement at the end of this process. This could then be made into a court order.
Please note that many of our recommended family law firms in our Directory also offer mediation services. To read the article How to make the divorce process less painful, please scroll down to the end of the page.
What can I expect at the first mediation meeting?
Meetings take place in a private and safe place. Usually there is only the mediator (sometimes two) and you together with your partner. The setting is informal and first names are normally used. The mediator would explain the process to you and answer any questions. You would then be asked about the issues you may wish to discuss. A list may be drawn up and you may both be asked to supply information for the nest meeting. A mediator is unable to make decisions for you but can facilitate an atmosphere where you can both explore different solutions. He will not take sides and will try to ensure that you are both heard on equal terms.
How many sessions can I expect and how much will it cost?
This of course depends on the nature of the problems but, generally, two to four sessions, each lasting about an hour and a half. There is no standard fee. Don't be put off asking. If one mediator is unable to help, he may suggest another. You may also be eligible for CLS (Community Legal Service) funding if you are on a low wage, on benefits and don't have much capital or savings. This used to be called Legal aid. If you are already receiving this funding for legal advice, then you may be required to try mediation.
Would everything discussed be treated as confidential?
Nothing is passed on to a third person unless you both agree. What you say in mediation cannot be used in court if mediation breaks down but this does not apply to the facts provided regarding income and property for example. But if the mediator thinks that a child or adult is at risk of harm or has been harmed, then he will stop the proceedings and take suitable action, usually involving the police or social services.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of using mediation?
It is reported that 68% of clients reach agreement when discussing chid issues only. When couples discuss "all issues" (child/property/financial), 80% resolve all or some issues. Instead of each of you relying on solicitors or the court to sort things out, mediation attempts to cut though the anger and hurt, helping you to resolve the issues yourselves. One advantage therefore is the likely reduction in legal costs and time as mediation could bring about agreement in weeks or months rather than years although you will both still need some time with your own solicitors.
An agreement made between yourselves is more likely to be kept rather than one forced upon you, especially where children are concerned. It focuses on the future rather than the past, allowing you both to reach a compromise which is considered just and fair. This agreement can then be drawn up by your solicitors and made into a formal court order. Even if agreement cannot be reached on all subjects, you will have at least gathered in the information that solicitors will need and therefore have saved on costs and time.
Mediation is costly in terms of emotional stress. Having to meet your soon to be ex can be quite traumatic but there is alot to be gained. If one of you has always held the purse strings or made all the decisions, you could be at a disadvantage but the mediator will try to keep things on level ground. The main disadvantage occurs when solicitors are not used before and during the mediation process as couples who expend so much time and energy in mediation are sometimes reluctant to try to change the agreement when advised to do so by their respective solicitors.
Your solicitor is the only one who can apply your personal circumstances to the law and decide what is equitable and fair. He is able to see the future pitfalls of any agreement and will want to protect your interests. Yet again, it is a question of gathering information, discussion and expert advice but it is up to you to decide in the end.
How do I find a mediator?
We are pleased to feature a few independent mediation services as well as the national ones listed further below and would welcome news from others.
There's an excellent mediation group called Lyons Davidson Family Mediation in Bristol, Bath, Weston-super-Mare, Trowbridge, Chepstow, Lydney and Stroud. There's another called Hallam Mediation in Sheffield, Doncaster and Rotherham.
You should first of all decide whether you need a family mediator
or a lawyer mediator
Family ones tend to deal with issues regarding children and lawyer mediators are experienced family lawyers who have undertaken training in mediation and are more suitable where problems include finances. You can ask whether comprehensive all issues mediation is available. If you are not sure, ask your solicitor for advice and you can always ask for a first appointment with a mediator before committing yourself. Some mediators offer a free half hour introduction session.
Lyons Davidson Family Mediation - Bristol, Bath, Weston-super-Mare,
Trowbridge, Chepstow, Lydney and Stroud.
Lyons Davidson Family Mediation isn't about marriage guidance or counselling. It certainly isn't about lawyers fighting over the children, house, car and money.
LD Family Mediation guides you
What LD Family Mediation does is to give you the expert, impartial help of someone who's trained to listen, understand and help you reach your own decisions. Someone who will focus your attention on what's important. Someone who will help guide you through the practical concerns you'll have to face. And, give you down-to-earth, understandable support on reaching an agreement that you both can live with.
Both of you have to be ready and willing to take part in mediation
Both of you have to be open and honest. Both of you have to want it to work. Then, it most certainly will. The alternative, after much time and argument, could be a solution imposed on you by a judge, together with potentially large legal costs.
What does LD mediation provide?
Our family mediators can provide everything you need to get through your separation with the minimum of stress. We have proven expertise in Family Law, real experience of the problems and pitfalls that can occur and a genuine commitment to making the solution as simple and straightforward as possible. Public funding (legal aid) for family mediation available if you are eligible - please ask.
Other sources for mediation:
Please mention Divorce Aid when making contact with any of these agencies:
Family Mediation Council
This organisation was launched in 2007 to improve standars in mediation. See their website
In Scotland, contact:
Family Mediation Scotland
127 Rose Street, South Lane
Edinburgh EH2 4BB
Tel: 0131 226 4507 Their booklet, "Parents Apart", is very good.
Family Mediation Helpline
The Family Mediation Helpline is staffed by specially trained operators who provide:
.general information on family mediation;
.advice on whether your case may be suitable for mediation
.information about eligibility for public funding
contact details for mediation services in your local area
Phone 0845 60 26 627 or see mediation site
The Family Mediators Association can be found at http://www.thefma.co.uk/
Please kindly say that you found them via this site.