If you’re splitting up, getting a divorce or dissolving a civil partnership, then mediation can help you sort things out with your partner. Taking place from 22-26 January 2018, Family Mediation Week aims to raise awareness of mediation and how it can help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively.
Resolving issues and conflict
The breakdown of a relationship, a marriage or civil partnership is always a sad and stressful time, and brings with it the urgent need to make arrangements for the care and welfare of any children involved. In addition, there needs to be a division of the couple’s assets, and this can prove a contentious area and is often a source of major disagreement.
Since April 2014, divorcing couples who find themselves disagreeing over issues such as child arrangements and the future ownership of marital assets, are legally obliged to undergo assessment to see if their cases can be resolved by mediation, rather than by going to court. (Cases that involve domestic violence or child protection issues automatically go through the court system).
Agreeing plans for the future
Mediators are independent, often have a legal background and receive professional training. They help both sides voice their concerns about important issues and help them take decisions in a neutral environment. The mediator’s role is to review the evidence put forward by the couple, explore ways of resolving their problems with them, and support them in finding workable solutions to the issues they face.
The mediation process is designed to help them take important decisions about the fair division of their property and finances, make practical arrangements about their children’s lives, and agree how they will work together as separated parents to achieve the best possible outcomes for everyone concerned.
Mediation can be less confrontational. Decisions arrived at during mediation are more sustainable because both parties feel involved in the process and own the outcomes. What mediation looks to achieve is a mutually-agreed plan of action that can help families resolve their differences between themselves, rather than resorting to court proceedings.
The process is straightforward. Firstly, there’s an assessment to identify the areas that need to be sorted out and agreed upon; these are usually finances and children. That’s followed by a series of sessions at which the major issues are openly discussed and solutions discussed . Finally, a memorandum of understanding and a financial statement are drawn up based on what’s been agreed. This document can then be used as the basis of a legal settlement.
Achieving a better outcome
Although couples are obliged to attend an initial Mediation Information Assessment Meeting, there is no obligation to follow through with mediation. Both parties have to be committed to making the process work; if one party is uncooperative or uncommitted, then the process is unlikely to succeed.
For more information and assistance contact Clare Pilsworth on 01223 411421.