Frequently separating or divorcing partners / spouses want to sort out the division of their finances and/or the arrangements for any relevant children in family mediation but they are worried that their husband / wife / partner may not want to. One partner / spouse would like to mediate as it provides a way for them to discuss matters face to face with the assistance of a neutral third party, the mediator. In addition, it hopefully helps to preserve a civil relationship, which is especially important if there is going to be an on-going co-parenting relationship.
As a family mediator, it is my practice to write to both spouses / partners and invite them to come and see me individually so that I can answer any of their questions or concerns about mediation, and I can explain how it typically works and what is involved. This also provides both the couple and me as the mediator the opportunity to decide if mediation is a process that is suitable, safe and appropriate.
If one spouse / partner does not respond to the invite to see me as mediator, as it is a voluntary process there is nothing that can be done to compel a person to explore mediation. In my experience, however, the vast majority of people do reply to their invitation to come and see me and generally are quite willing to do so. Furthermore, once people have had the opportunity to ask their questions and raise their concerns with me as the mediator in the individual meetings, more than roughly two-thirds of my clients are happy to proceed into the mediation process. I can discuss with them what we would need to think about and how the mediation should be set up to ensure it is safe and suitable for them.
Whilst mediation is a voluntary process, what is compulsory is to attend a statutory Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with an accredited mediator before you can make any application to the court to deal with your finances upon divorce and/or any children matters. As an accredited mediator, I regularly see clients for a MIAM, during which I explain all the various ways matters can be resolved so that the court knows that the client has had the opportunity to explore the different ways of sorting matters out before making an application to the court.
For any further information about family mediation please contact Sarah French.