Family mediation can help you to maintain a reasonable relationship and level of communication with your partner – which is helpful if you need to work together for the sake of any children.
Although family mediation involves talking through the issues you are arguing over, it is not designed to provide emotional support or bring a couple back together. That would be a separate form of marriage counselling.
Both parties must be willing to negotiate and discuss matters in good faith. If finances are involved, honest disclosure of your financial position is a must, the mediators may send parties away to obtain valuations so correct figures can be agreed and utilised during discussions.
Mediation can be faster and cheaper than Court proceedings and must be attempted before Court proceedings are issued unless in certain circumstances. Mediation sessions only require one trained expert rather than each party having their own solicitor. Typically, family mediation involves two to six sessions, each of between an hour and ninety minutes.
If you proceed with mediation, the mediator will ask you both to provide basic information.
Generally, family mediation takes place in joint sessions involving both partners. You can speak freely, knowing that discussions during mediation are confidential, and nothing you say can be used against you if the dispute later ends up in court.
The mediator acts as an impartial expert and is not acting on one parties behalf. They may highlight issues that need to be considered, however the mediator will not provide either of you with legal advice. This means that it may well be a good idea to get your own independent legal advice before using a family mediation service. Knowing what out-come you could reasonably expect if a dispute ended up in court can make it more likely that the mediation will succeed.
The mediator uses their skills to guide the discussion through a series of stages:
Exploring the issues, including allowing each partner to express their point of view,
Identifying how you could deal with the problem.
Reaching agreement where possible and identifying any unresolved areas. The mediator will provide both of you with a written summary of what you have decided.
Be aware that family mediation services are not legally binding. Either party is free to stop mediation at any time, or to decide afterwards to reopen the dispute regardless of any written record of your decisions. If family mediation has helped you to reach a satisfactory agreement, ask your solicitor to apply to the court for a consent order that will make the agreement binding.
Douglas Jones Mercer
Chelston House, 103 Newton Road, Mumbles SA3 4BN 01792 304090
16 Axis Court, Mallard Way, Swansea Vale SA7 0AJ 01792 650000