How mediation helps put divorcing families in control of their future
The breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership is very often a highly emotional time for the whole family. There are many painful decisions that have to be made before both parties can move forward to a new life.
If you’re separating or divorcing, you and your partner may find it difficult to resolve problematic issues surrounding your finances and the care and welfare of your children, and you may think that your only option is going to court to settle matters. However, in most circumstances, before you can approach the court you are now required by law to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
The purpose of this meeting is to see if by working with a professionally-trained mediator, a neutral third party, you could resolve the issues between you and avoid the need for court proceedings.
Finding common ground
It’s important to stress that mediation is an entirely voluntary process and represents a way of finding your own practical solutions to the problems that exist between you. Whilst it’s not there to sort out your relationship issues or get you back together (that’s the role of marriage counselling), mediation can help you take the practical decisions you need to agree between you once you’ve decided you are going to separate, or if you are already separated.
Obviously, for mediation to be successful you both need to agree to give it a try. By going through the mediation process neither of you should feel you have ‘won’ or ‘lost’, instead you should feel that you’ve reached a sensible mutually-agreeable solution.
How does it work?
Mediation can be undertaken at any stage and even before a separation, and offers couples several benefits:
- It gives families control over important decisions on matters such as their finances and how their children are cared for, rather than having the decision of a court imposed upon them
- It can open up or help to create a dialogue that will assist both partners to deal with issues that arise in the future surrounding the care and welfare of their children
- It is often far less stressful, less confrontational, quicker and cheaper than going to court
What happens during a typical mediation session?
The role of a mediator is to seek out the common ground that exists between couples, using this as a springboard that will create the right environment to enable them to find solutions to their problems. Priorities and timescales will be established from the outset.
If there are children involved, then their welfare needs and contact arrangements will be a paramount consideration. If the couple are looking to work out a financial settlement between them, they will need to provide full financial information about all their assets and income.
What you each decide and agree in mediation can go on to form the basis of a legal agreement between you both, covering important issues such as how you will share the responsibilities of caring for your children and/or how your financial assets will be divided between you, and what ongoing support each of you may need from the other.
How we can help
We can provide the guidance and support you need if you are separating and divorcing. Our Chartered Legal Executive Advocate, Sarah Canfield, is a fully-trained all-issues Family Mediator. She takes a holistic approach to family and childcare issues, ensuring the best outcome for all involved. She has been undertaking family mediation regularly in family disputes since 2012, and is a member of Resolution and the Family Mediation Council. To find out more, call Sarah on 0203 871 0116 or email