What is Family Mediation?
Family mediation is a neutral way of resolving disputes which can arise before, during or after separation or divorce. The aim is to avoid lengthy and costly court proceedings.
The family mediation process helps divorcing and separating couples come to an agreement for the arrangements of their children and finances in a constructive and structured way.
Drenne Dunphy, our qualified and accredited family mediator, will guide you through the process, ensuring that you are fully informed throughout. Although Drenne is unable to offer legal advice or counselling during Mediation, she is also a fully qualified family law Solicitor and registered with the Family Mediation Council, so will make sure that any agreement or decisions that you make are legally acceptable.
Drenne is also qualified to undertake Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM).
Drenne will help you to explore your options and guide you in checking how practical your proposals are, assisting you to reach workable solutions. However, the outcome you reach is entirely under your control. The family mediation process involves the clients working together with the Mediator. It is hoped that you will reach an agreement or compromise in a way which best suits your family.
Family Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process which gives each person a chance to explain their issues, plans and concerns to each other in the presence of a qualified family Mediator.
- Making arrangements for the children.
- Making decisions about your finances which can include the family home, pensions and any contributions to be made.
- You might also find it useful to discuss parenting arrangements or the preparation of a parenting plan with the assistance of the family mediator.
- Qualified to undertake Child Inclusive Mediation
- As part of Hepburn Delaney’s family mediation service, we also discuss which avenues of communication are currently successful, alongside alternatives where you think this could improve communication in the long term.
The family mediation process with Hepburn Delaney
There are three main stages (however, please note it is important to know that these stages can be flexible):
1. Information and Assessment Meeting
This meeting known as a MIAM is when the process of mediation is explained to you. It will give you an opportunity to ask any questions and will give us the opportunity to confirm that the issues are suitable for mediation. This meeting will take place with you individually and will cost £100 plus VAT.
2. Mediation Sessions
At the first session you will discuss the issues you wish to mediate. You can attend jointly or separately. It can help if you have thought about the issues you wish to discuss. Bring a note of these with you to the meeting, together with details of any proposals. When appropriate, you will be invited to a meeting together. We make sure that you pay a fixed sum for our family mediation services and sessions. This way you will know the cost in advance. They are £180 plus VAT per person, per session. The number of sessions you need will vary but can be up to 4.
3. End of Mediation
At the end of the mediation process, for an additional fee you can be given a document setting out your agreed proposals and a copy of your financial disclosure (if appropriate). You may then take these to a Solicitor to put these proposals into a legally binding format such as a Consent Order.
Family Mediation Voucher Scheme
We are pleased to be part of the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme which is designed to support parties who may be able to resolve their family law issues outside of court. The aim is to encourage more people to consider mediation as a means of resolving their disputes, where appropriate. To support this, a financial contribution of up to £500 towards the costs of mediation will be provided, if you are eligible. The scheme is not means tested and we can therefore help you to apply for a voucher, whatever your income or capital position. Further information is available on the link below:
Get in touch to find out more about our family mediation services
Call us on 01442 218090
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fill out our enquiry form and speak to one of our Family Team and Mediation today.
Do I have to mediate?
It is sometimes difficult to know what is or is not required of you when it comes to Court proceedings concerning your family. A common question is “Do I have to attend mediation before going to Court?”.
In short, the answer is no, despite what you may have read in the press. Mediation is voluntary.
However, before you can issue a court application, either in respect of your children, or matrimonial financial matters, you are expected to meet with a mediator to discuss whether mediation could be a suitable alternative. This meeting is known as a MIAM.
The family court and judges are keen for parties to make some attempt to resolve disputes without the need for court intervention. For this reason, there is a chance that you could be ordered to pay court costs if you have failed to attend a MIAM. Alternatively your court application could be adjourned while you attempt mediation.
What is a MIAM?
Have you read about MIAM or been told by a solicitor that you need one, but you are not sure what this is?
MIAM stands for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.
In short, a MIAM is a meeting with a potential mediator who will provide you with information as to what mediation involves and how it works and the choices available to you. This will allow you to make an informed decision as to whether mediation would be the best option for you.
The mediator will also consider whether, taking into account your individual circumstances, mediation is appropriate. The mediator can discuss any concerns with you at the MIAM.
What is a Memorandum of Understanding?
At the end of a “successful” mediation session, a Memorandum of Understanding is often drafted, setting out the terms of the proposals or agreement reached between the parties.
This document is made “Without Prejudice”. This means that it cannot be shown to the judge in any subsequent court proceedings. It is, however, a useful tool which enables the parties to see in writing exactly what was proposed or agreed.
If agreement is reached and both parties are happy with what is proposed in the Memorandum of Understanding, the terms can be incorporated into a draft Court order which can be sent to the Court for approval with the consent of both parties. Alternatively the terms can be set out in a separation agreement or deed.
The terms of the agreement only become binding when the order is approved by the Court or the deed of separation is complete with the correct signatures and engrossment.
Is mediation binding?
One of the most common concerns about mediation is whether discussions, proposals or agreements reached in mediation are binding on the parties.
All discussions, proposals and agreements in mediation are “Without Prejudice”. This means that they are private, confidential and cannot be discussed with the judge if your case ends up in court, enabling you to discuss and explore the options without worrying that what you say may be held against you in the future.
However, financial information which is disclosed in mediation is “open”. It therefore can be used in any subsequent court proceedings and the principle of full and frank financial disclosure applies in mediation.
Any agreement reached can only become binding when put into a binding format, such as a Court approved order or a deed.
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FROM THE BLOG
“I have had various reasons to take advice and instruct Hepburn Delaney over the last few years and I cannot fault their service, communication skills and plain non jargon explanation of the position they were acting on my behalf.
The advice was excellent, and explanations were exemplary, making the process so much easier. Would not hesitate to recommend”
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