What are the Benefits of Mediation?

Mediation is a completely voluntary process in which separating or divorcing couples instruct an independent third party, known as a Mediator, to assist them in communicating with each other. The aim is to help couples consider the relationship breakdown and to make decisions about their children, finances and property. In this respect, mediation provides couples with information and signposts where they can get more specialist guidance in terms of finances, pensions, legal advice and family matters.

There are numerous benefits in attending mediation in contrast to engaging in solicitor – led correspondence or issuing proceedings at court, which include:

  • The mediator has to remain neutral in the process, which can help parties feel that they are on an equal footing and can offset any feelings of a power imbalance.
  • Parties will usually attend meetings together with the mediator, although arrangements can be made for them to engage in the process separately if one or both parties wish to avoid coming into contact with each other.
  • Mediation is a process driven by the parties, so they set the agenda rather than being dictated to by solicitors or the court.This allows the parties to focus on resolving the issues that are most important to them, whether that pertains to their future relationship with their children, their finances or the relationship breakdown itself.
  • As a voluntary process, parties are free to withdraw from mediation at any stage.
  • Mediation can present as a more open and amicable process in contrast to the traditional and at times adversarial litigation process.
  • It is conducted at the pace set by the parties and provided that they engage in the process in the spirit of goodwill and are cooperative and open with each other, the potential for stress and anxiety is greatly reduced.
  • Parties who are attending mediation to resolve their financial matters will be asked to provide each other with financial disclosure, which will form the basis for their discussions on financial settlement options.
  • The discussions held in mediation shall be ‘Without Prejudice,’ meaning they should be kept confidential.
  • Parties have found the costs of attending mediation to be considerably lower than using the court process or engaging solicitors at the outset.Whilst they will be told by the mediator that they can have legal advice alongside the mediation process, and that they may benefit from that advice, it is up to them whether they choose to engage solicitors.  At the conclusion of the process however, they will be encouraged by the mediator to seek legal advice on the fairness of any settlement that they reach and in formalising that settlement so that it can become legally binding.

Currently, there is an added incentive to attend mediation for separated or divorcing parties who wish to resolve the future arrangements for their children.  The Ministry of Justice has pledged £2m to help promote mediation in such cases and has developed a mediation voucher scheme, whereby £500 can be made available to the parties to help them meet the costs of mediation.

There are some limitations in that this scheme is only available from certain accredited mediators, and whilst at Tisshaws we have not subscribed to the scheme, we can refer parties to accredited mediators and provide them with the legal advice they may require alongside the mediation process or at the conclusion of it.

At Tisshaws, we can arrange for an initial consultation with one of our lawyers where we can discuss mediation and the mediation scheme in more detail.  If you would like to book an initial consultation at a fixed fee of £50.00 (incl. VAT), please contact 01444 472700 or email info@tisshawssolicitors.co.uk.

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