Could Mediation be the Answer for You?
Mediation is an alternative to making an application to the court. Both parties have to be willing to attend as it not compulsory.
The mediator does not represent either of the parties. They take a neutral stance in order to assist both parties come to an agreement. They do not advise either party. Once the parties have reached a tentative agreement, they will usually go and see their own solicitor for advice on the proposals before they commit to them (or reject them).
The mediator will have trained as a mediator. Some mediators are also qualified solicitors or have some other qualification such as, as a social worker.
Any discussions in mediation are privileged which means that they cannot be made known to the court in later court proceedings, if mediation fails. It is, therefore, sometimes possible to speak more freely in order to try reach a settlement.
It is not always necessary for the parties to sit in the same room. Some mediators offer ‘shuffle’ mediation. This is where the parties sit in separate rooms and the mediator shuffles back and forth as part of the negotiation process.
The cost of attending mediation is usually divided between the parties who are attending, unless one of them is eligible for legal aid. If they are, their costs will be covered by legal aid and the other party will pay half of the total cost. Sometimes, of course, both parties may be eligible for legal aid.
If successful, mediation is likely to cost less than making an application to the court, in most cases. It may also mean that there is less bitterness, because the procedure does not focus on blaming one party or the other. However, if it fails, and an application then has to be made to the court, there will be both the cost of mediation and the cost of a court application.
Financial agreements reached at mediation are often embodied in a court order as part of divorce or civil partnership dissolution proceedings. This is less common where an agreement is reached regarding the arrangements for children as the court does not usually make orders in relation to children where their parents separate and where there is agreement.
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