What is Family Mediation Week?
20 January 2021 by Ties Bouwmeester
This week is Family Mediation Week, which aims to highlight exactly what family mediation entails and how it can assist separating couples and their family as a whole. Beyond the formal process of the divorce, there are many aspects of family life that will understandably need to change. Making decisions in this regard is where mediation can help.
There are many important issues that need to be considered when couples separate…
When separating, there are important parenting arrangements to be considered. Such as where the children will live and when they’ll see each parent. There can often be other decisions that need to be made, for instance, regarding the children’s education and holiday arrangements. If these discussions are handled badly, the repercussions can continue to cause difficulties for many years.
There are also financial matters that need to be considered, such as what happens to property, debts, and pensions.
Many of us know someone who has been through a divorce.
The impact on the emotions of the separating couple and their children can be severe.
Sadly, many couples believe they need to head to Court for what can be a long, drawn-out battle, without understanding that there are other options available.
Applications to the Court for both children matters and financial matters can last months, and sometimes years. Further, the legal costs can be significant, and then finally, when the court delivers its verdict, the arrangements may not suit anyone’s interests, particularly the children.
Leaving matters up to the Judge, the person in the courtroom who knows the family least can lead to unfortunate outcomes.
How is Family mediation different?
Family mediation keeps separating couples in the driving seat, influencing and controlling the outcomes, rather than having the outcomes imposed upon them. The process does not try to keep couples together. It accepts that change happens in our lives and it helps everyone involved move forward to the next stages of their lives in a positive, voluntary way.
The process is less confrontational and stressful than attending Court. In mediation, the couple sit, currently often in their own homes via a video link, with a trained mediator to consider all the things that need to be settled in a safe environment. Making arrangements about children and possessions is difficult, and both parties need to be fully committed to the process. Mediators take simple, practical steps to reduce friction between the parties, and mediation can take place with the parties in separate rooms, if needed.
There are no ready-made solutions in mediation. Agreements reached are individual and tailored to a family’s unique needs. Mediators are trained in all aspects of family law and have an understanding of what is considered fair and reasonable by the Court. It is important to remember that you can seek legal advice from a solicitor, before agreeing anything at mediation.
Whilst arrangements made at mediation are not legally binding in the same way a Court Order is, the benefits are clear for all to see. In general, the process is considerably cheaper than paying for legal representation through the Court process and it is generally much quicker. More importantly, both parties are the decision-makers. There has to be ‘give and take’ on both sides, but the benefit, in the long run, is beneficial for the family as a whole.
Consider mediation as an alternative
Before applying to Court, have to consider mediation first. If you’re separating or divorcing, please do not write this off as a tick-box exercise. Whilst there are some cases that will not be suitable for mediation, for many, successful family mediation can make a huge difference to their future and the future of their children.