Family mediation is an effective process for resolving a range of disputes in the context of a relationship breakdown or other family matter.
The mediation sessions provide a flexible, bespoke process that brings you and the other party together to help identify, discuss and resolve the issues that you need to address. It is a voluntary process where you decide the issues that you want to address, putting you in control.
The role of the mediator is to skilfully guide the discussions, provide relevant information and to signpost you to other resources that will be helpful as the process unfolds. The mediator is neutral but will assist you to understand what is important to you and ensure you can make fully informed decisions about the future for you and your family.
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Paul Linsell is an experienced mediator, trained via Resolution. He is fully accredited through the Family Mediation Council to conduct mediation in relation to all issues. In addition to a full mediation service, Paul can conduct a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.
We also have extensive experience of supporting clients who are engaged in mediation with an independent mediator by providing legal advice and helping to plan for mediation sessions.
Frequently asked questions
Why might mediation be right for you?
There are many reasons why mediation might be the right process for you, including:
Protection of relationships – many couples who separate wish to remain on good terms and avoid a heated, ongoing dispute. Mediation enables you to work together to resolve the practical issues you need to address but with the security of expert guidance.
Better future interactions - it is important to remember that you may need to maintain an ongoing relationship with your ex on some level; for example, co-parenting together. Mediation can help you to understand each other’s perspective better, improve communications between you and lay the foundations for a successful method of resolving issues. This can have a profound impact on the future interactions and benefit the entire family.
Child-focused – if you have children, mediation will focus on the impact any decisions might have on them at all times, helping you to ensure the best interests of your children are always properly considered and protected.
Empowering – not only are you in control of the process, but you will also be empowered to make the choices for you and your family, being guided every step of the way by the mediator.
Flexible – the process is bespoke and can be adapted to suit your needs, going at the pace needed for you.
Convenient – the mediation sessions can be arranged at a time, place and in a manner that fits around your life.
Cost-effective – mediation is often a less expensive way to resolve matters, particularly when compared to a formal court process.
Speed – it can be possible to move forward much more quickly via mediation
Private – the process is confidential and any discussions regarding financial settlement are ‘without prejudice’ meaning they cannot be referred to at a later date.
What if you do not believe you will be able to agree?
It is rare for parties to commence mediation believing they will conclude an agreement. Despite this, most mediations will result in a concluded agreement.
If that does not happen for you then you can still explore other avenues for resolving the issues you need to address, including court proceedings. Even in those circumstances, there is still often a benefit of the mediation as it can be useful in narrowing the issues between you, even if you cannot agree on everything. This will often expedite any alternative process that may still be required and save costs.
When to mediate?
It is sensible to explore the option of mediation early on if you think it is something that might work for you. The earlier mediation is considered, the less likely it is that costs will have been incurred on any alternative processes or that views will have become entrenched on certain issues.
However, mediation is usually an option at any stage of your relationship breakdown process and irrespective of whether a court process has begun or not.
We have experience of successfully assisting in mediation at any time from the very outset or just before a contested court hearing. It is not uncommon for mediation to be re-considered once a court process has commenced and the realities of that process are laid bare, including the financial and emotional costs it often entails. Mediation can run alongside any other formal process if desired.
Where will mediation take place?
The process is flexible to suit the needs of you and your family. Traditionally, mediation takes place with the parties and mediator in the same room. However, it is possible to break-out into separate rooms where appropriate or to conduct the entire mediation in separate rooms (known as ‘shuttle mediation’), potentially even at different times or on different dates if required so that the parties do not come face to face.
There is also the option of remote mediation via video call, which is becoming increasingly popular due to the added convenience and time savings.
Is mediation compulsory?
Many people choose to attend mediation to gain the benefits it can bring, but it is a completely voluntary process.
However, before starting most types of court proceedings there is a requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (“MIAM”) to ensure mediation has been carefully considered.
Most family court judges will actively encourage parties to attend mediation and will not only expect it to have been carefully considered before progressing a court application but may also adjourn proceedings to allow time for mediation if appropriate.