Mediation Week 2023
Louisa Bestford, Senior Associate
As we approach the end of “Family Mediation Week”, a campaign run by the Family Mediation Council to raise awareness of family mediation, we are sharing the benefits of mediation and how it might work for you and your family.
Hay & Kilner’s family team often encourage separating couples, particularly those with children, to think about the benefits of family mediation.
Mediation has many advantages over going to court. Not only is it often faster and cheaper, but it allows the parties to remain in control in order to achieve positive outcomes that work for the whole family.
What is family mediation?
Family mediation is a process in which an impartial third-party mediator helps separating couples resolve disputes and make lasting arrangements for the future of them and their family, without going to court.
There are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions. When we meet our client’s, we learn about their family, individual circumstances and their relationship. If there is some common ground between the couple, then family mediation has realistic prospects of success and can be a useful process.
What are the benefits of family mediation?
You set the timetable
One of the biggest benefits of mediation is that it allows for a faster resolution than the traditional court process and works around your timetable. This is because mediation is a voluntary process, with no set court timetable or deadlines and can be structured in a way that works for the family. Equally, the parties involved can slow things down and work at their own pace involving professionals to give them legal or financial advice as and when required.
Mediation can often be cheaper than going to court. This is partly because no court fees need to be paid and much of the negotiations can take place without legal expenses being incurred. The mediation process can also be much quicker than going to trial which means the associated costs are generally lower. As well as this, mediation can take place anywhere convenient for the parties involved, including online or by telephone, meaning that travel costs are also reduced.
The parties involved in mediation have much more control over the process than they would in a courtroom. They can tailor the process to suit their needs rather than adhere to court rules or procedures. For instance, the parties can decide to have their mediator present for the duration of the process. This is not possible in a court where the judge makes all decisions.
Finally, and potentially the most important benefit is that of potentially preserving relationships between the parties involved. Due to mediation being a non-adversarial process, it allows the parties to hopefully come together to find a solution that works for both. This is not usually possible in a courtroom, where the parties are pitted against each other, and the judge usually determines the outcome.
Will the process work for everyone?
No. Separation is a very difficult time for couples and families; tensions and emotions usually run high. Individuals may be too entrenched in their views, or their relationship has been fractured to a degree where amicable discussions are unrealistic. However, the door remains open and if the parties’ relationship improves, they can use family mediation to deal with some, or all, of the issues at a later stage.
When couples participate in mediation, hoping to reach amicable agreements, the process can be far more productive when the parties have taken good legal advice prior to the mediation process commencing.
It is also important that parties use a qualified mediator with specialist knowledge of family law.
We are happy to meet with you for an initial consultation to discuss your options and to recommend specialist mediators to you. We also often assist our clients by providing ad-hoc legal advice to them in the background to the mediation process, or where appropriate, attending mediation appointments with them.