Family mediation on relationship breakdown
Family mediation is a process in which both parties meet together in an informal and relaxed setting with a neutral third party Mediator to discuss matters relating to their children or to the division of financial assets on divorce, separation or relationship breakdown.
What is involved
The Mediator offers expert impartial assistance based on extensive involvement in matrimonial settlements. Often several meetings (of approximately 90 minutes each) are necessary to reach a conclusion. At that stage, both parties consult a separate solicitor in order to formalise the agreement and avoid the cost and acrimony of contested family proceedings.
By this method, it is hoped that couples will be able to explore the issues and concerns they have and to reach their own joint decisions.
Mediation can, therefore, assist couples at the point of breakdown of their relationship to consider their options and make arrangements that they can live with for their separate lives - particularly if children are involved.
Where children are involved
It can help parents to make, and where necessary or appropriate, review arrangements for their children, reflecting the changing needs of the children and parents going through the process of divorce and into new living experiences. “Comprehensive” or “all issues” mediation helps couples look at financial arrangements and the decisions regarding property.
However, while mediation can be successful in helping reach agreements between parties, it is not a universal panacea, or directly an aid to reconciliation. Mediators do not offer counselling or legal advice and the process will not suit all participants.
Finding solutions together - how collaborative law helps ease the pain of family breakdown
When a married couple decide that the time has come for them to part, they are frequently loath to see solicitors for fear that the process of divorcing will add to the existing acrimony.
However many divorcing couples also have family, mutual friends and in-laws all of whom have an interest in seeing them through this painful process without prejudicing their friendships or more particularly the welfare of any children. Furthermore many spouses going through a divorce hope to remain on cordial terms with their ex-spouses at the end of a divorce.
In these circumstances, it is often better to reach solutions together and ease the pain of relationship breakdown whilst holding on to the realistic hope that a very different but still positive friendship may flourish at the end of the process. This is particularly the case where mutual decisions have to be made in respect of children, be it their graduation, marriage and ultimately the birth of grandchildren.
When you instruct a Collaborative Solicitor, rather than negotiate a settlement by way of impersonal correspondence and then if that fails leave a decision to a Judge in Court, the parties agree to sit down together and endeavour to work it out face to face. Unlike the conventional process, with Collaborative Law you do not deal through your solicitors but work with them to reach the best solution for you and your family.
If you and your spouse have a genuine desire to make this process work, a willingness to disclose information about assets openly and honestly, and are prepared to enter into an agreement that you will endeavour to reach a solution without going to Court, then Collaborative Law may be the appropriate alternative for you.
The “environment” in which you proceed with Collaborative Law therefore is to still retain the benefit of your own independent legal adviser but you remain in control without the prospect of Court proceedings hanging over you. You set the agenda, the pace and talk about things that are most important to you and your family.
Collaborative Law requires a certain amount of sincerity, trust and the ability to communicate to serve your mutual benefit and avoid Court proceedings. It may not be suitable for all potential divorces particularly where one of the parties has a dominant character. However with a degree of understanding and with both parties being prepared to enter into the spirit of collaboration, it can be the most suitable way of resolving a sensitive dispute.