Some things are changing for the better for families and children

It used to be that when one encountered difficulty in a relationship or marriage, arming themselves with the best lawyer, on advice from family and friends, ahead of a court battle was considered de rigeur.

Happily family law has evolved in many ways over the years both in respect of the language adopted by family law professionals; there are no more “battle” or “opponents“; and in the way in which such disputes are resolved.

Divorce mediation is now deemed to be one of the most appropriate forums, by the legal profession and clients alike, in which to manage family disputes.

The main principles of mediation are that it is confidential, child centred, the couple make the decisions about their futures and that of their families. They work together with an impartial, fully trained mediator to resolve matters together.

Mediation is currently voluntary. There is a push by government to make it compulsory. However constructive family law practitioners, as with good friends and supportive family members, should now positively encourage couples to enter mediation as the preferred method of divorce resolution.

What is family mediation?

It is a way of discussing and resolving disputes between couples and families. The couple meet with a trained impartial mediator who aids discussions between them with the aim of finding a way forward that is the most suitable for their family.

What is the process of mediation?

The process begins with each client having an individual meeting with the mediator to discuss their concerns and aims. This meeting is confidential and provides an opportunity for the mediator to assess whether mediation is suitable for the couple. This is referred to as a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, a MIAMS for short.

Although many initially have a belief that their partner will not agree to attend mediation or that mediation will not work for them, in a recent Family Mediation Council survey two thirds of those who attended a MIAMS, taking the opportunity to learn about the process and understand the benefits of mediation, went on to mediate. 

Once all agree it is the right way forward for the couple then the joint meetings take place. 

What are the benefits of mediation?

It is usually more cost effective because you and your former partner share the costs of the mediator. Mediation is a flexible process.

It can be less stressful than court proceedings and any solution reached is tailored to the couple’s circumstances. Being a resolution they crafted, rather than being something imposed on them by a third party, couples are more likely to keep to it.

It offers a safe way for the couple to communicate with a mediator who assists manage discussions. It therefore helps promote a good basis for co-parenting, helping the couple to understand each other and facilitate better communication in the future. 

How does mediation take place?

Mediation can take place in person or via remotely. The couple can be seen together or if that feels too pressured, they can be in separate rooms, either physically or virtually. The mediator will shuttle between them to progress matters. The meeting usually lasts about 1 1/2 hours and couples usually need between 3-6 sessions to resolve matters.

What is addressed in mediation?

Mediation can cover an array of issues such as arrangements for any children; where they live and what time they will spend with each parent. It can cover issues such as schooling, medical treatment, the name a child is known by and when to introduce a new partner. It can cover how to sort out the couple’s finances upon separation such as what should happen to the family home, the family business, pensions and how much money each client may need to live on in the future.  

In 2020, the Family Mediation Council carried out a survey which showed that mediation was successful in 70% of cases. 70% of families using the process chose and experienced a more positive way to resolve matters between them, affording a better opportunity for them to co-parent any children in the future, reducing the financial impact of their separation and avoiding the acrimony of a litigated divorce.

How Moore Barlow can help

If you are facing family issues, please contact our mediators at Moore Barlow to support you through the same. Things are changing for the better for us too…… we have moved to new smarter and larger offices. Please see our new address below. 

Jan Galloway
Consultant – Mediator
Frameworks, 2 Sheen Road, Richmond, London TW9 1AE
Tel:  020 8332 8673 / 020 8744 0766

Article first appeared in Richmond and Barnes Magazine – 20th September 2023

Disclaimer: This information is for guidance and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking full legal advice.