If you are thinking about divorce and would like more information about the costs of divorce, you can read the article: How Much Does a Divorce Cost
What is mediation?
Mediation is a way of resolving financial matters arising from the breakdown of a relationship without the need to attend Court.
The process is entirely voluntary and whilst you do not have to attend you are required to at least consider it.
How does it work?
The initial contact with a mediator is a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment meeting). This meeting is an opportunity for the mediator to explain the mediation process and advise whether they consider mediation is appropriate in your circumstances. If you do not attend a MIAM you will be prevented from making an application to Court for financial remedy. The theory behind this rule is that many cases do not need to be heard in Court, and most couples find they can successfully reach agreement regarding division of assets with the assistance of a trained family mediator.
The Courts consider many factors when determining financial settlement, one of which is the conduct of the parties. If you refuse to engage in mediation without good reason the Courts may impose a cost penalty therefore it is important to show that you have acted reasonably and attempted to resolve matters via alternative forms of dispute resolution before bringing the matter to Court.
Mediation is not relationship counselling and the mediator will not provide legal advice. Their role is to assist separating couples to identify the issues and explain the options available in law.
Mediators are usually trained family lawyers with an excellent knowledge of matrimonial law and provide a safe environment for couples to air their concerns and reach agreement.
Mediation is definitely worth considering as it is generally quicker, cheaper and less stressful than going to Court. Most couples who reach agreement in mediation feel they have done so on their own terms rather than handing over control to a Judge who of course could reach a decision neither party is happy with.
Are there any exemptions from attending family mediation?
There are a number of exemptions from the requirement to attend a MIAM, these include:
· Where there is a history of domestic violence in the relationship;
· Where one of the parties live abroad or there are no family mediators within a 15 mile radius however, this exemption is less likely to apply where it is possible to conduct mediation online;
· If you do not know where your spouse lives and have taken all reasonable steps to locate them.
Once you have attended a MIAM, and the mediator has advised that mediation is appropriate you will be invited to attend mediation sessions. Each party will be required to pay the mediator for the sessions. It is common for many couples to reach agreement within 3-4 sessions. If it is possible for the parties to reach agreement the mediator will draw up a document called a memorandum of understanding which is essentially a record of the agreement but is not legally binding. Your family lawyer can incorporate the terms recorded in the memorandum of understanding into a consent order which will then be signed by both parties and filed at Court to make it legally binding.
For more information about the divorce process, read the article: How to Get a Divorce in the UK.
Hi, I’m Emma and I’m MyBump2aby’s family law, protection and financial editor. I’m passionate about better-informing parents on their choices when it comes to family law and family protection and financial matters.