Ask the Solicitor: What are the benefits for separated couples of attending mediation?

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Today we continue our series of legal advice articles called Ask the Solicitor, in partnership with Altrincham law firm Hill and Company. You can read the previous articles here.

This week it’s family solicitor Dan Knox.

Q

Dear Dan

I have read a lot this week about being able to obtain vouchers for mediation. Myself and my partner have made the difficult decision to separate but want to stay on good terms for the sake of our kids. Are there any benefits for myself and my ex going to mediation? I don’t know if I could face it given that we are only recently separated?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Stacey

A

Hello Stacey

Thank you for getting in touch. Recently there has been a lot in the press about mediation as a result of it being National Mediation Week. The government also announced that an additional £1.3 million will be spent on the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme. The scheme allows eligible parties to obtain a voucher which provides a £500 contribution towards mediation costs, this is a great initiative, especially given that families can get financially stretched upon relationship breakdown.

The scheme particularly focuses on promoting mediation for disputes in which children are involved. I know this is important for you, and children’s well-being should always be paramount in a parent’s thinking. I consider that mediation can often be an important tool in order to achieve this goal.

If you would like to find out more about the voucher scheme, follow this helpful link.

The benefits of mediation are often case-specific but I have briefly outlined some generic benefits for you below.

Communication

One of the main benefits of mediation for any separating family is enabling clear communication. Mediation gives you a safe space to talk about what is working well, and importantly any concerns or worries you have. Once communication has improved issues can begin to be tackled and a compromise position can often be reached.

Maintain your relationship

You may be separating but if you have children together as you do with your partner, one of the best things you can do for them going forward is to co-parent responsibly. Mediation can provide the space to structure your co-parenting relationship moving forwards as both your needs and your children’s needs evolve.

Timing

Mediation can take place as quickly or as slowly as you would like. You will each have an individual meeting after which a joint meeting will be set up if you are proceeding to mediation. Dates for future sessions can work around all parties’ availability.

Setting the agenda

At the beginning of each mediation meeting, you will get to set the agenda detailing the key matters that need to be discussed. In other legal processes, you may not always get the opportunity to do this. Mediation recognises that sometimes the small issues need to be tackled just as much as the bigger ones. Often by reaching agreement on the smaller issues parties are more likely to reach a consensus in regard to other larger issues.

Flexibility

The agenda is set on what you need to talk about as a family mediation is about your needs. A lot of mediation is currently being run online by video calls. As long as the central rules for mediation are followed the rest of the process can be adapted to suit your needs.

Work with other professionals

Mediators don’t know everything but will have a good source of professional contacts to signpost you to, these can include financial advisers or pension experts. By working with a variety of professionals you will often find agreement can be attained more swiftly.

Child Inclusive Mediation

If some children giving them the opportunity to speak to someone about what life is like for them and the impact the separation of their parents is having is important. Allowing children to speak to someone who is impartial can have a dramatic impact on them, allowing them to feel a sense of control in their lives, which in turn helps Mum and Dad to communicate with more clarity.

Hybrid Mediation

Not only are there different ways in which mediation can be run, but there is also the option of hybrid mediation where your solicitors attend the mediation process with you.

I hope this information helps Stacey, good luck and if you do need any more support please contact me directly on 0161 928 3201.

Thanks
Dan 

If you need advice about your separation, or any other legal issue, you can contact Dan or one of our other trusted legal advisors here at Hill and Company by telephone on 0161 928 3201.

Family solicitor Dan Knox, from Hill and Company Solicitors

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