Today marks the end of family mediation week. In this blog site we summarise the mediation process and, as considered in our historic blogs, examine the crucial advantages of mediation and other approaches of conflict resolution as a way of dealing with the practical arrangements following separation.
The family mediation procedure
Very first call
mediation usually starts with the mediator having a brief preliminary call with each of the parties. The purpose of this call is to talk with the parties about the mediation process and consider separately with them whether there are any issues which would suggest that mediation is not appropriate.
following the initial calls, the mediator will have a meeting with each celebration independently (this is often called a Mediation Info Evaluation Meeting (MIAM)) to talk about the background briefly and describe a bit more about the mediation process. The initial conferences are confidential and so the material will not be discussed with the other party.
First joint conference
following the specific conferences, if the parties wish to proceed with mediation, they will set up a joint session with the mediator. The first meeting is utilized to go through the Agreement to Moderate type, deal with any interim or pushing issues and to set the agenda for future sessions.
More joint meetings
the focus of future meetings will depend upon the issues the parties want to cover however this will normally include discussion around the arrangements for the children followed by a review of the parties’ monetary disclosure and an exploration of possible financial settlement.
In the event that an agreement is reached, the mediator can tape-record the appropriate information and decisions in a number of documents called:
- Open Financial Declaration
this records the parties’ financial info as set out in the financial disclosure provided. This is an open rather than without prejudice file.
- Memorandum of Understanding
this records the conversations in mediation and the overall choices reached. This is a without prejudice document and can not be divulged in any court proceedings.
- Parenting Strategy
this records the arrangements for the children and any other matters parents wish to document in regard of the daily care of their children.
Any arrangement reached in mediation is not lawfully binding up until the parties have had independent legal advice on it. As soon as this has happened, one of the party’s attorneys will normally turn the Memorandum of Understanding into an order which can be lodged at court for approval by a judge.
The advantages of family mediation
There are a number of advantages to the mediation process, a few of which are set out below. Mediation is not right for everybody and a party and the mediator’s own solicitor will think about any issues which may make mediation hard or unsuitable. The advantages consist of:
Family mediation is a member of the ADR or alternative dispute resolution family. It forms one of the core pillars of mediation services provided globally.
Historically, it is not clear geographically where family mediation first evolved. However, family mediation has been present in various forms in various cultures world-wide for thousands of years.
The system is focused on providing a dispute resolution mechanism to families who are in dispute. Divorce mediation forms part of the family mediation tree of services.
Modern day family mediation is divided into two main fields namely mediation and comediation. In the former of the two fields a single mediator works with the family in dispute. In the latter of the two fields, two or more mediators work with a family in dispute. Mediations are completed by the use of either joint or single caucuses. In single caucuses the mediator/s caucus one party at a time. In joint caucuses the mediator/s work with all sides to the dispute present in the same session. The majority of family disputes have two sides however in family disputes between siblings it is not uncommon for several parties to be involved.
- The mediator will motivate the parties to set the agenda and validate what they want to cover in mediation. You can deal with matters crucial to your own family and those which might not otherwise matter in a court process.
- Mediation sessions can be arranged for a time and location hassle-free to you and the mediator. You choose the length of time between sessions and handle its rate. You won’t need to wait months for the next date as can happen in a court process, and equally you can guarantee you each have sufficient time to collate financial disclosure and assess ideas made.
- Choices reached in mediation can be tailored to match your family. This is in contrast to court enforced decisions where the judge might not have the power to impose similar plans or has disliked the subtlety of why a particular idea may be much better.
When a decision is made together in mediation, it is more likely that parties will be content with and stick to it. Mediation is created to promote communication and an ongoing co-parenting relationship.
- Personal privacy
mediation is a personal and personal process which indicates that parties are motivated to be open about choices they want to think about. This generally results in parties making ideas they would be reluctant to make in court proceedings. For high profile customers, it is also a method of keeping information of your relationship out of the public eye.
- Costs and speed
Mediation can be cheaper and quicker than court proceedings if effective. By setting the program and picking the number of sessions you have, parties have far more control over the procedure than when they are part of court proceedings. The mediator will also ensure and manage the procedure that mediation does not continue if it is ineffective or making matters worse.
Although family mediation has actually been in focus today with #FamilyMediationweek, in suitable cases it can offer an important method of fixing family disputes efficiently and amicably and it should be something that is encouraged all year.