Most couples will encounter difficult situations in their relationship at some point. If that relationship comes to an end, then things can become problematic over issues such as settlement.Problems can often arise when a couple try to resolve issues themselves, when using a mediator can alleviate stress on both sides. For a couple with children, who are planning on getting a divorce or a separation, the need to settle things amicably becomes even more important.

Family Courts support and suggest that couples use a mediator after a relationship breakdown before commencing an application to Court. Solicitors should now recommend mediation as primary advice prior to the commencement of litigation.

The National Family Mediation Service (NFMS) is a good place to start, and offers a free call number at 0800 862 0502 (the number is open between 8am and 9pm, 7 days a week). The Law Society also advises couples to use a legal representative throughout the mediation process working in collaboration with you and the mediator to resolve issues appropriately.

A mediator is like a referee, who will be neutral and listen to people’s concerns in an impartial way. A mediator is certainly not allowed to give information that may help one party in favour of another. There are mediators who will also be qualified solicitors, which will be helpful to couples in regard to legal issues.

If mediation is going well, and you are achieving an appropriate solution to your issues the mediator will suggest that you consult your legal representative to confirm your solution is suitable and appropriate to your needs.

Matters like an out-of-court settlement may worry individuals as to what it entails, and a solicitor can give peace of mind by explaining matters clearly.

It’s important to remember the differences between a mediator and a solicitor in matters of relationship breakups. A mediator has to be impartial, whereas a solicitor can be hired to defend the rights of one party.

The NFMS website here, gives a comprehensive explanation as to just what a mediator’s role is.

Legal advice through a solicitor, and a mediating service like NFMS can really give you peace of mind. There is the option of defending yourself in court and you may think that you can save money by self representation, however this can be traumatic and unsatisfactory and has the potential to backfire if the result isn’t in your favour causing distress and potential financial loss.

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