What is mediation?
When you decide that your marriage or relationship has come to an end, mediation is a formal path you can take to work your way through divorce or separation. The mediator is an unbiased professional and the meetings will take place in a neutral setting. It is the chance for both parties to have their say and to work through their issues calmly and with a third party present who specialises in the process. Every element of the separation can be discussed thoroughly and decisions will be made together to enable you both to progress. Topics discussed usually include finances, property and children if you share any.
Why is mediation preferable to court?
It is preferable for many reasons. Firstly, it usually costs less to go through the mediation process than to go through the courts. Secondly, it may also take less time which means you could have your separation or divorce finalised faster, enabling you to move on with your lives. Thirdly, it is likely to be less stressful as you’ll both be fully informed throughout the process and you’ll make the decisions together, for yourselves; if you go to court, the judge will be the one to decide.
Do I have to give mediation a go?
Yes. You will be unable to apply to the courts unless you can demonstrate that you have tried mediation first or that mediation would not be a safe environment for you.
Why is mediation so successful in the majority of cases?
Mediation is less formal than court and it takes place within a neutral setting. The mediator is an impartial professional who will allow both parties to have their say and assess both sides fairly. It’s about helping people find practical solutions to issues that they have previously disagreed on; it allows the couple to decide themselves - with a little help - rather than putting it completely in the hands of a judge.
How will mediation affect my children?
When parents decide to separate it is always a tough time for the children involved, but we believe that parents going through mediation will react better to the situation than those going through the courts. It should promote calmer behaviour as they work through their issues and make plans for their childrens’ future. The mediation process will also give the children a chance to have their say and make their feelings and wishes known. The mediator will hold a meeting with each child individually (age dependent) to find out how they feel about the separation, what their preferences are and if they have any concerns.
Do we have to pay for mediation?
Legal aid is available to those who are eligible - go to www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid to find out if you meet the criteria; it is usually available to those who are not in work or on a low income. If you are not eligible for legal aid you will need to pay for the sessions between the two of you.
Is mediation a way of trying to get us to get back together?
No. Mediators will never try to get a couple back together, their aim is to help you work out what will happen after your divorce or separation has been finalised. They will focus on the issues that need to be agreed in order to move the divorce or separation forward.
Can a mediator give me a divorce?
No. You’ll need to ask the court to legally end your marriage or civil partnership, but you should not have to physically attend and the divorce will usually be a paperwork or online process .
Will I need a solicitor?
You do not have to engage a solicitor but mediation is more successful if you have a solicitor who is there to advise you and formalise the proposals you make in mediation. Your mediator should be able to put you in touch with some recommended firms if you wish.
Can my mediator act as my solicitor?
No. A mediator is not allowed to give legal advice and as your mediator is impartial, they would not be able to act for one of the parties they are mediating for or that would cause bias. In limited circumstances a mediator may draw up the documents to legalise the proposals reached in mediation but they will not be able to advise you on the proposals or the documents drafted. It is therefore preferable that you obtain advice from an independent solicitor. The mediator can, however, recommend firms at your request.
Are mediation agreements legally binding?
They can be made legally binding. Your solicitor will be able to do this for you, but be sure to ask them any questions you have about this before going ahead.
What is the mediation process?
Please see our page detailing the mediation process
How long does the mediation process take on average?
It will depend on the couple’s circumstances. If they own a property together and/or have children, it is likely to take longer as there will be more things to decide on and more potential issues that could arise. Mediation is flexible so you can take it at your own pace. A very rough estimate of time scale would be between 4 and 8 months.
How long does a divorce take to come through?
This will depend on the courts and how long the waiting period is when you apply for your divorce, but on average it takes around 4-6 months
Can we make separation arrangements on our own without a mediator or court proceedings?
Yes you can, but it’s not recommended. Very few couples are completely amicable when they separate so it’s best to use a mediator to ensure everything is done fairly and that all issues are considered and resolved.
Can mediation be carried out online?
Yes. We have been doing online consultations for several years and nearly all mediations have been online since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 and it is something we can also offer to couples that are not comfortable attending together. When restrictions allow, we will be happy to welcome clients back into the office if that is your preference.