22nd – 26th January marks Family Mediation Week, which is organised by the Family Mediation Council and is designed to raise awareness of family mediation and the benefits it can bring to separating families.
When a couple decide to separate, there are lots of difficult conversations that need to happen, including dealing with financial matters and working out arrangements for children. Particularly in the early days post-separation it can be incredibly hard to have these discussions directly with your former partner or spouse without help, not least due to the anger, hurt, upset, confusion, frustration or any other emotion that you may be feeling. Part of our role as family law practitioners is to give you options as to how you can move forwards to reach agreement on these sensitive issues.
Mediation is an alternative to what can be a confrontational legal process. In mediation, couples will meet together and an impartial specially trained third party (the mediator) will facilitate the conversations between you. The mediator aims to reduce hostility and tension, helping you both to stay on track and focus on the issues without dissolving into argument. Engaging in mediation can also help you to express your feelings in a secure environment, learn to communicate with each other again and explore different options for your future.
Mediation can also be a cheaper option than court proceedings and certainly much quicker and many clients feel that it helps them to stay in control of the conversations and therefore, the overall outcome for their family. The mediator will assist by structuring the discussions between you and they can give you information about the relevant law, although cannot give you legal advice. You can, however, seek legal advice from your solicitor between mediation sessions so that you feel informed and comfortable throughout the mediation process.
At Whitehead Monckton, our family lawyers are members of Resolution. This is an organisation which is committed to a Code of Practice, promoting a constructive approach to family separation and considering the needs of the whole family, including children. We encourage you to focus on moving forwards, rather than the historic issues that led to your marriage or relationship breakdown. If you feel that mediation would suit you, we can recommend you to a local mediator if you would like to instruct us for legal advice, or we have our own in house mediator if you would like to use us for the mediation process.
If you would like to discuss anything raised in this article please do not hesitate to contact a member of our family team for further information.