However, participation in mediation is voluntary, meaning that parties cannot be compelled to engage in the process if they choose not to.
The exception to this rule is if one party is looking to commence legal proceedings in relation to financial or children matters, in which case they must attend an initial mediation appointment known as a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM). Even then however, there are may be exceptions to this requirement for example, in cases of urgency like a child abduction matter.
At mediation, the parties will attend meetings, usually together, with the mediator who helps them in considering the ways available to resolve family disputes relating to the breakdown of a relationship or marriage such as, the future arrangements for the parties’ children or grandchildren and how to fairly divide property and other assets.
The discussions held in mediation are private and the mediator should remain neutral and act impartially between the parties throughout the process. The mediator should manage the parties’ discussions and help guide them even-handedly by providing relevant and useful information and highlighting the different ways in which their issues can be resolved. The mediator can also point out to the parties whether their agreement or proposed arrangements are likely to be approved by the court, which can help focus the parties on moving forward amicably in the right direction.
In the event that mediation is successful, the mediator shall record the terms of the agreements or arrangements reached between the parties in a document known as a Memorandum of Understanding. Parties are then advised to take their Memorandum of Understanding to a Solicitor specialising in Family Law for further advice and assistance in turning the agreement into a legally binding Consent Order approved by the Court.
We know how difficult divorce and separation can be, so we offer an initial one hour fixed fee consultation with a fully qualified lawyer, to help you make an informed decision about how to proceed.
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