Is family mediation a cheaper way of sorting out my divorce/separation?

When couples separate or divorce they need to sort out how they are going to divide their finances, and the arrangements for any relevant children.  Sometimes couples are able to resolve things amicably between themselves but often some professional input and support is needed.  There are different ways that divorcing couples can resolve their financial affairs, and matters relating to their children, as follows:

  1. Direct agreement;
  2. Family mediation;
  3. Collaborative process;
  4. Traditional solicitor negotiations;
  5. Family arbitration; and
  6. The Court process.

Whilst each option has pros and cons one of the main things clients want to know is how much it will cost to resolve matters, and which option is the cheapest.  Whilst much depends on the complexity of the case, in terms of what assets there are, one of the biggest contributors to high legal costs is a high level of animosity between the couple.  This makes it much more likely that the matter will end up being fought out in the court, taking much longer and costing much more than need be.

Family mediation is usually one of the more cost effective options both in terms of time and monetary costs.  My mediations are usually concluded after three to four sessions.  It can be sometimes be more or less, and largely depends on how well the couple work together in the sessions.  On average, I would estimate that my mediation clients save at least a quarter of the amount they would otherwise have spent in time and money had they gone to court to argue their case there.

I think the main “saving” in terms of mediation is in respect of any co-parenting relationship.  A high level of animosity and the inability to communicate effectively has bean shown to have a very damaging effect on any children of separating couples.  This loss of a relationship and being able to communicate is very difficult to repair once court proceedings are underway and people become entrenched in their positions.  In mediation the couple can discuss matters face to face with the help of an independent third party, the mediator, to help them preserve any on-going co-parenting relationship.  This is a huge “saving” which benefits not on the couple but, crucially, the children and wider family members as well.

For more information about family mediation please contact Sarah French.