What is family mediation?
Separating from or divorcing a partner can be a traumatic experience, especially if kids are involved - and the thought of arguing with your ex in court over everything from your possessions to your childcare arrangements could make everything seem even worse.
The good news is, there are alternatives to official legal proceedings. In fact, as it says on the specialist legal website http://www.thelawhouse.com, the majority of divorces conclude without either party having to go to court. If you don’t want to go down this route, you might benefit from taking advantage of family mediation instead. In short, this is a way of reaching an agreement with your former partner over things like property, money and how you will look after your children.
How does it work?
Family mediation is voluntary, meaning that both parties have to be willing to take part in the process. It’s possible to refer yourself, or your adviser or solicitor can refer you. The proceedings are run by an independent mediator, who will meet both you and your ex (this can be done together or separately) to get a full picture of the issues involved in your separation. The mediator will help the two of you come to an agreement and, at the end of the process, this will be written up. You might benefit from getting legal advice at this point to ensure you’re happy with all the details. If you want, the arrangement can be made to be legally binding.
Why should you consider it?
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to consider mediation as an alternative to going to court. For example, it can be less stressful, cheaper and quicker than court action. It also gives both you and your ex more of a say in the outcome and it can help to improve communication between you. Because it is less confrontational, it also tends to be less upsetting for any children involved and it can help them carry on with normal family relationships.
When can you use it?
You can use these services as soon as you’ve decided your relationship is coming to an end, as long as you feel able to discuss and resolve any issues. Because it encourages cooperation and can prevent disagreements from getting worse, mediation can help to simplify any subsequent legal proceedings.
Bear in mind that if you’re applying for a court order to settle a dispute about your kids, property or money, you’ll probably be expected to contact a mediator and arrange a meeting to see if your disagreements can be resolved without court action. Mediation can also be used after a divorce if new issues arise.
Separating from a partner will always be difficult, but by taking advantage of mediation services rather than assuming everything must be addressed in court, you can take some of the stress out of the situation.