Today marks completion of family mediation week. In this blog we summarise the mediation process and, as considered in our historical blogs, take a look at the crucial advantages of mediation and other techniques of dispute resolution as a method of dealing with the practical arrangements following separation.
The family mediation process
mediation normally starts with the mediator having a short preliminary call with each of the parties. The purpose of this call is to talk to the parties about the mediation process and think about separately with them whether there are any problems which would suggest that mediation is not proper.
following the initial calls, the mediator will have a conference with each celebration separately (this is often called a Mediation Details Assessment Fulfilling (MIAM)) to talk about the background briefly and discuss a bit more about the mediation procedure. The initial conferences are private and so the material will not be talked about with the other party.
First joint conference
following the individual conferences, if the parties wish to proceed with mediation, they will arrange a joint session with the mediator. The very first meeting is utilized to go through the Arrangement to Moderate form, deal with any interim or pushing problems and to set the agenda for future sessions.
Further joint meetings
the focus of future conferences will depend on the concerns the parties want to cover but this will generally include conversation around the arrangements for the children followed by a review of the parties’ financial disclosure and an exploration of possible monetary settlement.
In the event that a contract is reached, the mediator can tape-record the pertinent details and decisions in a number of documents called:
- Open Financial Statement
this records the parties’ monetary info as set out in the monetary disclosure supplied. This is an open instead of without prejudice file.
- Memorandum of Understanding
this records the discussions in mediation and the total choices reached. This is a without prejudice document and can not be revealed in any court procedures.
- Parenting Strategy
this records the plans for the children and any other matters parents wish to record in respect of the everyday care of their children.
Any contract reached in mediation is not legally binding up until the parties have had independent legal advice on it. As soon as this has taken place, one of the party’s lawyers will typically turn the Memorandum of Understanding into an order which can be lodged at court for approval by a judge.
The benefits of family mediation
There are a number of advantages to the mediation process, some of which are set out listed below. Mediation is wrong for everybody and the mediator and a party’s own lawyer will consider any issues which might make mediation inappropriate or challenging. 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 confirm what they want to cover in mediation. You can resolve matters important to your own family and those which might not otherwise matter in a court procedure.
- Mediation sessions can be scheduled a time and place practical to you and the mediator. You select the length of time in between sessions and handle its pace. You will not need to wait months for the next date as can occur in a court process, and similarly you can ensure you each have sufficient time to collate monetary disclosure and assess recommendations made.
- Decisions reached in mediation can be customized to suit your family. This remains in contrast to court imposed choices where the judge might not have the power to enforce similar plans or has actually disliked the subtlety of why a specific tip might 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 designed to promote interaction and a continuous co-parenting relationship.
- Personal privacy
mediation is a private and confidential process which suggests that parties are motivated to be open about alternatives they want to consider. This typically leads to parties making ideas they would be reluctant to make in court proceedings. For high profile customers, it is also a way of keeping details of your relationship out of the public eye.
- Costs and speed
Mediation can be less expensive and quicker than court procedures if successful. By setting the program and choosing the number of sessions you have, parties have much more control over the procedure than when they are part of court proceedings. If it is ineffective or making matters worse, the mediator will also guarantee and manage the process that mediation does not continue.
Although family mediation has remained in focus this week with #FamilyMediationweek, in suitable cases it can provide an invaluable method of solving family conflicts effectively and amicably and it need to be something that is motivated all year.