Every separation can be complicated, whether couples are married or unmarried and whether or not there are children in the relationship. However, there is a process which can really help you move on relatively quickly, with certainty and with the foundations of a positive ongoing relationship with your former partner. It’s called mediation.
Mediation is sometimes confused with relationship counselling. In actual fact mediation is not designed to explore whether it is possible or desirable to save the relationship. Mediation is instead designed to assist when there has been or will be a separation and both parties involved want to deal with the practicalities of that separation as amicably and productively as possible.
With mediation, a trained mediator from Eric Robinson Solicitors would help both parties together, as opposed to one individual only. This means that as mediators we are impartial and therefore cannot give either party legal advice, but we can give a lot of legal information, using our skills as legal advisors.
We can offer Mediation at any of our offices, and it can be paid for on a session by session basis or by prearranged fixed fee.
Mediation can deal with the following:
- Arrangements for formalising the separation
- Living arrangements
- Financial arrangements
- Children arrangements
- Communication difficulties
If you are interested in mediation, once you contacted us, we will need to contact your partner to invite them to mediation. If you are both willing to mediate, we shall first arrange initial meetings with you both individually, and then secondly, arrange the joint meetings to discuss the issues you want to address. You will set the agenda for mediation meetings so you will be able to give priority to the most important issues you are seeking to resolve.
What is the role of a mediator?
Your mediator is a mutual third party. They will not judge or criticise you and they will not take sides. Their role is as an impartial third party who works with you and your former partner to help you move on from a relationship as cleanly and amicably as possible. You will have private meetings with a mediator, yourself and your former partner. You may wish to instruct a solicitor to provide you with legal advice between the mediation sessions.
What is the benefit of working with a mediator?
Communication is often the first thing that breaks down when a relationship begins to fail. It can become difficult to see things from your former partner’s perspective. Such people give up trying and simply stop communicating altogether. Your situation may not be quite as extreme, but you may also find it hard to discuss the things you need to with your former partner. That is why a mediator can really help. Your mediator will work with you, they will listen separately to what you and your former partner have to say and help you each to see things from the other person’s point of view.
How quick is mediation?
Mediation is not an instant solution but tends to be far quicker than negotiations between lawyers or court cases. That is because it is a concentrated effort over a period of weeks through a series of face to face meetings. While the mediator helps guide discussions and timings, you are in control of the process, so you decide how quickly things get resolved. It is the mediator’s role to encourage cooperation and to avoid the delays that can happen when there is a stalemate between you.
Does this particularly suit parties with children?
It is not a pre-requisite; any separating or divorcing couple can turn to family mediation but where children are involved there is even more reason to maintain an amicable relationship. However strongly that you feel that your relationship as a couple is over, it is important to recognise that it is not always possible or practical to completely break the ties with your former partner. It is beneficial to stay on the best possible terms, which makes everything a little bit easier for the future. This is especially so if you have children, as your joint parental responsibility carries on. Parents who are able to get along following a separation make it easier for the children to cope with new arrangements, in both the short and the long term.
Will this help with communication?
Mediation is an opportunity to lay your cards on the table in terms of how you would like to move on and the arrangements you would like to put in place. It is also a chance to find common ground with your former partner and understand in a calm and safe environment more about their perspective on the situation.
It is often the case that one partner is more aware of the family circumstances than the other. Perhaps you feel that they have a better understanding of the family situation than you do. Through mediation you will get a better understanding of your family issues. It is the mediator’s job to guide you to make these things clearer to both of you.
What are the benefits?
Mediation is your chance to get the result that you are happy with. You do not have to agree to everything you do not want to or do not understand and it is up to the mediator to make sure that all avenues you wish to discuss towards settlement are explored. As you and your former partner have an equal input throughout, it is fair to you both. A successful mediation needs to agree proposals for the future. The proposals will have been discussed and negotiated through mediation to make sure that each party understands the implications of agreeing to particular arrangements. This is crucial to reaching outcomes that work on a long-term basis because you will each have played an active role in the process of putting them in place.
How much does it cost?
If there is protracted negotiation through solicitors or proceedings through court, the legal costs can spiral. Mediation is usually a lot less expensive and you often share the costs between you. Legal Aid is also available for mediation in certain cases.
How flexible is mediation?
If you have been in full control of shaping proposals, you are going to be more inclined to continue with it than if it had been imposed upon you. That is one of the real valuable differences between mediation and the court process. Although mediation proposals are not legally binding, you and your former partner can instruct solicitors or apply to the court to formalise them so that if either of you change your minds, there are ways of putting things right.
If you want to alter the arrangements as your own circumstances change, you can always return to mediation in the future.
What is the benefit of a Resolution Accredited Specialist?
Resolution members sign up to a code of practice which commits them to working with their clients in a constructive and non-confrontational way and to talk them through all the options available to them. At the heart of the Resolution code is a focus on considering the needs of the whole family, and crucially, putting the interests of children first. A Resolution member aims to help a couple reach an agreement without going to court.
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