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Many separating couples would like to come to an agreement about their children or financial affairs but may not be able to discuss the issues constructively between themselves. Family mediation can create a safe space to help you reach agreement with the support of our highly skilled mediators.
How does mediation work?
Mediation is a voluntary process which the Courts actively encourage. You and your partner meet together with a neutral mediator or mediators to discuss the issues between you.
The mediator encourages dialogue, helping to clarify issues, explore options and test which will work in practice. If firm proposals are reached, these are recorded in a document which although not legally binding, can be made into a legally binding agreement if you wish.
Although mediation does not involve the Courts, it is conducted within the framework of the law and, as such, both you and your partner are expected to give full and frank disclosure of your financial situations.
Children are not automatically involved in the mediation but mediators have a special duty to encourage parents to consider their children’s wishes and feelings. The mediator can discuss how to talk to your children about the changes that will be happening and how to help them to understand those changes. It is important that the views of the children are taken into account in issues that directly involve them. The mediators’ Code of Conduct provides that all children and young people aged 10 and above should be offered the opportunity to have their voices heard directly during the mediation. We offer child inclusive mediation if you would like your children involved in the mediation process.
Our policy is to speak to both parties before arranging appointments for mediation to ensure that you both understand the process. We will usually then meet you and your partner separately to determine whether mediation is appropriate in your particular case. If your case is not suitable for mediation this meeting will constitute a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) which is generally required before a party can start Court proceedings in relation to a child related or a financial claim on divorce.
For more information on how mediation works, take a look at the video What is family mediation? by the Family Mediation Council.
Why use mediation?
Mediation has a number of advantages over the traditional Court process:
- Almost any family dispute can be resolved in mediation including financial and housing arrangements in relation to separation and divorce and issues concerning children such as where they will live, how often they will see each parent and their education, disputes between cohabitants and inheritance disputes. The process is extremely flexible and can be tailored to your particular needs.
- Unlike the Court process where a judge will be appointed and the process is fixed, you choose the mediator and remain in control of the situation and the decision making process. This can lead to longer lasting settlements than those which are imposed by the Courts.
- Mediation can take place at any time. It is rarely too early or too late for mediation.
- Mediation is considerably cheaper than any legal process.
- Mediation can promote discussions and concessions that would not be possible in the Court process because it is a confidential process. Agreement is, therefore, much more likely.
- The confidential nature of mediation also means that it is ideal for those seeking privacy and discretion.
Types of mediation we offer:
Our mediators cover all family issues ranging from divorce and separation (including finance and housing matters) to children matters (including residence and contact issues, international relocation of children and schooling) and mediation in relation to pre- and post-nuptial, civil partnership and cohabitation agreements. They also offer preparation and support to couples about to embark on mediation with other firms or court proceedings. Our mediators offer mediation in relation to both domestic and cross border family disputes including international child abduction, access and custody cases.
We offer all types of family mediation including:
- Sole and co-mediation. One or two mediators working together.
- Child inclusive mediation. When child inclusive mediation takes place the mediator will, with the child’s consent, feed their views back into the overall mediation process. We have over 10 years’ experience in this field and four of our mediators are trained in this area. Dominic Raeside is an active member of the Government’s Voice of the Child Advisory Group.
- Civil/commercial model of mediation. We have four mediators trained in this area.
- Mediation in cases involving child abduction. We have one mediator who is a specialist in this field.
- Crunch-point mediation. Crunch-point mediation is intended for disputes which have reached a crunch-point when everyone knows the case should settle but cannot see how it can settle. Read more about crunch-point mediation here.
Our team of mediators:
We have thirteen mediators including two of the top mediators in the country, Dominic Raeside and Ruth Smallacombe. Dominic and Ruth have a therapeutic, rather than a legal, background. Eleven of our family lawyers are trained mediators.
Our mediators are among the most experienced in the country and are known and trusted by the legal community for being highly skilled and utterly professional. They hold memberships of both national and international family mediation organisations and take most of their referrals from the best family lawyers in London and the surrounding areas. Their track record for getting to lasting agreements and enabling couples to have good post separation relationships is second to none. We are the only firm ranked top tier for family mediation by the prestigious legal directory, Legal 500 UK, with five of our mediators ranked as leaders in the field of family mediation.
The strength in depth of our team of mediators and the range of skill sets that they are able to draw on, from legal skills and collaborative practice to therapeutic and counselling skills, adds real value to the support and insight that our mediators can bring to resolving complex family issues.
Examples of our mediation work:
- Mediation involving a couple who were in their mid-sixties and had substantial assets. Over five mediation meetings the couple agreed their separation, initiated divorce proceedings and successfully negotiated all of their financial arrangements which were recorded into a binding financial consent order without the need for any formal court proceedings.
- Mediation involving a dispute over schooling between parents who had separated a number of years earlier. It was agreed that the son’s views should be taken into account and a child inclusive mediation meeting was held with their son who was clear about his schooling preference. The results of this meeting were fed back to the parents who agreed to abide by their son’s wishes.
- Mediation concerning the relocation of a mother with her three young children to Australia. After a number of mediation meetings the father agreed to the mother moving to Australia and arrangements were agreed for scheduled visits and regular contact via Skype with the children
- Mediation between a lesbian couple and a gay male friend who had fathered a child for the couple who had since separated. The father had a contact order but the child was refusing to visit. The father made an application to the Court for contact with the child. The matter was referred to mediation by the Court. The outcome of mediation was that the father withdrew the Court proceedings, the mothers agreed to encourage the child to begin to see the father again and the child agreed to see her father again.
- Mediating a high conflict situation where the couple had separated several years earlier and had found it difficult to adjust emotionally and practically. The parents were in litigation about their children, finances and business interests and their children were in the middle of their disputes. After two mediation sessions, which addressed their conflict and lack of cooperation, the parents were able to focus on the needs of their children, who took part in a child inclusive mediation.
- Mediating a couple who had been married but were now separated. Their only child had been born when they were in the process of separating. The mediation involved five sessions with careful attention to their divorce and transition to their new separated parent relationship. The mediation resulted in agreed arrangements for their baby and a financial plan was later incorporated into a consent order.
Feedback from our mediation clients:
“The mediation service was excellent”
“I would recommend Family Law in Partnership to anyone who needed mediation”
“I felt that my dilemma was understood and appreciated”
“The process was particularly helpful in counterbalancing the fear and insecurity which divorce raises”
“We found the sessions invaluable”
“Excellent, empathetic with a detailed knowledge of the different emotional issues that clients experience during divorce and separation”
Read our recent blogs on mediation:
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