Why should I use family mediation?
Because it’s cheaper. Because it is quicker. Because it helps communication.
In a nutshell, that’s why you should use family mediation.
Cheaper than what?
Mediation is the less costly dispute resolution process of those available. On average mediation with me will cost in the region of £2,500 between the two of you. In addition, you may have some legal costs to take advice on the mediation proposals and have them drawn into a binding agreement.
Fully contested court proceedings that go to a final hearing (most court applications will settle before a final hearing if the parties are willing to negotiate) can cost an average of £40,000 for each party if they are represented throughout the process.
The other dispute resolution processes such as collaborative law, negotiation through solicitors are significantly less costly than court proceedings. You need to find the process which is right for your situation but the average cost of mediation is a great incentive to use that process.
Quicker than what?
Going to court. The court system is overwhelmed and court hearings are allocated when your local court has space. You do not have the choice of when your case is listed for a hearing. Since the recent pandemic, with some courts initially closing in the first lockdown, the backlog for cases is even longer. Priority is given to child protection and domestic abuse cases. Private family disputes about children and financial cases are lower on the list of priority for the courts to list for a hearing. Mediation can take place as quickly (or as slowly) as is right for your circumstances. You will often have tasks to carry out between joint meetings and so we will set a date for the next mediation meeting based upon how long you think it will take you to undertake the task.
How does it help communication?
Mediation makes you and your ex partner have discussions that you may not have been able to have on your own. A mediator is present to help you through those difficult discussions. Your relationship has broken down, you are trying to work out your separate futures while feeling hurt, upset, angry, guilty, let down. The mediator allows those feelings to be acknowledged but then helps you to move the discussions on past those feelings so that you can work out what needs to be decided. You are also likely to find it quite hard to know what you need to work out and may have different priorities and mediation helps you with this.
Where a couple have children together, although their relationship has broken down, they will still need to be able to have discussions about the children throughout their childhoods. I see one of the most important things we do in mediation as trying to help the couple find a way to ensure they can talk about their children. It won’t always be easy but it’s so important for the children’s wellbeing that they know mum and dad talk about them and their needs even though they are not still in a relationship.
The above are the primary reasons to use mediation. There are other reasons, it puts you two in control of the decision making for your separate futures, it remembers that although you have separated you did have a relationship and allows some respect for that history, it allows you to talk about some smaller details which the court process may not have time for. Mediation isn’t right for everyone, but it is right for many people and can be adapted to make it right for your circumstances.