Often after a relationship breakdown there are so many things to think about that it’s hard to know where to start. Questions such as where will the children live, what will happen to the house, will I keep my pension?
Emotions may be running high and this can often impact on making tough decisions. The prospect of resolving issues may seem impossible and the prospect of going to Court extremely daunting.
In the early stages of most family cases a referral will be made to a family mediator. The mediator will then contact both parties to invite them for an initial meeting to discuss the process of mediation. The timing of the referral can mean that the parties are still upset and disoriented, having only recently ended the relationship. This can result in an overly cautious response from some individuals who will dismiss mediation as being ‘pointless’ or a ‘waste of time’.
Mediation can be very useful in trying to settle financial and child-care issues with your ex-partner. Probably the biggest advantage for most separated couples is that the mediation process is considerably cheaper than pursuing Court proceedings. To put this into context, the costs of mediation will usually be in the region of a few hounded pounds whereas Court proceedings can easily run into thousands.
Mediation can be far less stressful than going to Court with your ex-partner. Of course you will have to discuss some very sensitive issues, however going to court and engaging in the court process can frequently cause even more anxiety.
During mediation, although the mediator will assist in keeping your discussions focused on the key issues, ultimately the end result or settlement will be deter-mined by you and your ex-partner. Conversely, in Court proceedings the decision making can often be taken from the individuals and instead final decisions can be made by a District Judge or a bench of Magistrates.
Obviously, family mediation isn’t for everyone and there can be cases which would not be suitable. I would however urge clients to consider their options carefully before dismissing the idea of mediation. You may find it is a better solution for you and your family.
Lynne Isaac is a Family Solicitor and Mediator at Graham Evans and Partners, and if you would like to arrange an appointment then please contact the office on 01792 655822.