Many people experiencing a relationship breakdown, divorce or other family law issue will be faced with a variety of processes they can use to try to resolve matters. Whilst there may be a place for the court process and lengthy solicitor correspondence, parties should consider this a last resort. In addition to the lengthy court wait times and the cost, engaging in a contested court process is unlikely to start the process off on a journey to peaceful conflict resolution. Mediation is often a better starting point.
Here are some of the potential advantages of mediation that you may want to consider when comparing it to other options:
1. Reduces conflict
Mediation is forward focussed, meaning the time is spent looking to address the issues the parties face both now and in the future. It encourages people to look forward rather than back. As a result, the situation often calms, conflict is reduced, and family relationships are preserved.
The pace of the process can also adapt to meet the needs of the parties and the issues they face. Generally, matters are resolved more quickly in mediation as a result when compared to alternative processes. The speed compared to a court process is almost incomparable, with the vast majority of mediations being resolved within three to six months, depending on the issues, compared to a court process which may take as long as 18 months to two years to conclude.
Mediation is often one of the most cost-effective processes available for resolving issues in family law matters. The parties generally share the cost of the mediator, meaning for the majority of the process they are paying for one professional to guide them. It is likely that both will still take some legal advice, but the legal costs will be significantly lower as a result. There are also inherent savings as a result of the fact that mediation moves more rapidly.
4. Less stressful
Mediation is likely to be a less stressful experience for the parties than many other processes. Part of the mediator’s role is to help both parties feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process, so that they can focus on the issues to be addressed. There is a vast difference between this and a court process and the emotional strain of a court process should not be underestimated.
At a time when you are likely to be experiencing some significant life changes, it is important to feel like you still have some control. Mediation puts the family at the centre of all issues and the aim is for both parties to be empowered to make informed decisions about their future. This is a stark contrast to many other processes where that power is handed to a third party.
Mediation can offer a bespoke process that can be set up and adapted to suit the needs of the couple. Mediation sessions can take place in-person, remotely via video call and at times to suit everyone. The agenda is broadly dictated by the parties to mediation, with guidance from the mediator, so it can be used to address issues in a natural and flowing manner.
7. Sets a good example
The primary concern of many parents experiencing a relationship breakdown will be the impact of the separation or divorce on their children. Mediation offers a way to model positive behaviours to children; it shows them that their parents are taking control of the situation, are working together for their benefit and are capable of making difficult decisions to secure the future of the family.
8. Better outcomes
If a consensus is reached through mediation it means that both parties have fully explored the options available in resolving matters and have made a choice as to the outcome. As a result of this being an informed choice (rather than an imposed decision from a third party) the outcome is likely to be better. Agreements are more likely to be upheld and people are more likely to be able to move forward emotionally.
The discussions in mediation are confidential; meaning that nothing will be shared with anyone outside of the mediation process, save for taking professional advice. In respect of settlement discussions regarding financial matters, these are without prejudice meaning they cannot be raised at a later stage if agreement is not concluded.
10. It works
Mediation has a very high rate of success. The vast majority of people that entre into mediation will leave the process with a full agreement. For those that don’t, many will still have a partial agreement that means they can resolve all remaining issues in a quicker and more cost-effective manner.
If you would like to know more about how mediation might be able to assist you and to explore the advantages it may offer in your circumstances, please contact our specialist family law team.
Where can I find a mediator?
Our head of team and Partner, Paul Linsell, is an accredited mediator with over 10 years’ experience working in mediation and is additional one of a small number of mediators trained in the hybrid model for family mediation.
If you would like to know more about how mediation might be able to assist you and to explore the advantages it may offer in your circumstances, you can get started online.
Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.