Mediation: why you may want to re-think going to court
Asking a court to decide your financial settlement or child arrangements following a separation can be both time-consuming and costly. Even if you and your spouse are struggling to reach an agreement, there are other alternatives open to you.
What is mediation?
If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement about issues such as property, money or child arrangements, mediation is a process which could help. Mediation involves an independent third party – known as a mediator – aiding discussions between you and your spouse, with the aim of reaching an agreement.
Do I have to try mediation before going to court?
Normally, yes, although there are certain exceptions, for example if there was domestic violence in the relationship. Most couples will have to attend an initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before proceeding to court.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Mediation is a process which encourages you and your spouse to work together to find solutions, rather than fighting against each other. An amicable divorce is not only much less stressful for both parties, but it can also help to ensure that your relationship will be on civil terms in the future, which is particularly important when there are children involved.
Mediation is normally much less costly than going to court. It can also be a much quicker process, enabling you to both move on with your lives a lot sooner than a potentially lengthy court battle.
Is mediation right for me?
Mediation will not be right for every divorcing couple. Your solicitor will be able to talk you through whether mediation could be right for your individual circumstances.
Do I need a divorce lawyer if I opt for mediation?
Although mediators can give you information about the law and legal processes, they are unable to provide legal advice. As such, it is highly recommended that both you and your spouse seek independent legal advice as well as mediation. Understanding your legal rights, and what a fair financial settlement may look like in your circumstances, can help to inform your discussions during mediation.
Resolving financial matters and child arrangements amicably can help to save both money and time. If you would like to know more about mediation or need legal advice regarding your divorce before commencing mediation with your spouse, get in touch to book your free initial consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers today.
Neil Graham, a Partner at Grayfords, comments as follows: “Not all cases are appropriate for mediation, such as those where there has been domestic violence or where there are concerns over financial disclosure, for example. However, mediation is often an excellent and cost effective way of trying to resolve disputes without incurring the significant legal costs of proceedings and without polarising the parties’ respective positions at an early stage. The parties are not bound by what the mediator proposes and still each need to obtain independent advice via separate advisors upon any solution proposed in mediation. In cases where the dynamic is right it remains an effective way of trying to resolve disputes consensually whilst preserving as much of the assets as possible for distribution rather than their being eroded in the costs of litigation.”