Family mediation is a process which helps families reach decisions about what should happen after a relationship has broken down. It involves an independent impartial mediator and offers an alternative to the more adversarial legal approach of instructing lawyers and going to court. It is a process which enables couples to make practical and tailor-made arrangements which work for their individual family.
The following four core principles govern family mediation:
- Mediation is a voluntary process and whilst the court expects families to attempt mediation before litigation begins no-one can be forced to mediate.
- Mediation is a confidential process (with limited exceptions) allowing clients freedom to discuss and explore options safe in the knowledge that proposals put forward in mediation cannot be referred to in legal proceedings.
- The mediator is impartial and will not take sides or make decisions but will help clients resolve the issues and make their own arrangements for the future. Mediators do not give legal advice but will give clients lots of information to help move the process forward.
- In mediation the clients are in charge of the outcome – the mediator is not there to make decisions but merely to help couples decide what proposals would work for them and to reach their own agreement.
Unlike going to court or arbitration, family mediation recognises that you are the experts about your own family and leaves the decision-making to you.
Unlike negotiating through your lawyers, family mediation allows you to speak directly to each other, so that you can both explain what you are feeling and what is most important to you. It also lets you focus on the things that really matter to you as a family.
Family mediation is for anybody who is experiencing a family conflict that needs to be resolved. It is a process that can be used in relation to disagreements about divorce and separation, finances, children and parenting as well as more general disputes arising out of the challenge to make good decisions at a difficult time.
Family mediation is the quickest and the cheapest way of resolving issues when a relationship breaks down. It is a process that leaves the decision-making to the family and not an outsider. As such it gives clients ownership both of the process and the outcome allowing families to navigate transitions with dignity and work towards a positive future.
There are also numerous emotional benefits to mediating a family dispute. In keeping it away from the more adversarial and hostile environment of the court, family mediation allows you to adopt a more positive and constructive approach. In doing so it reduces hostility and improves the chances of long-term co-operation allowing you to focus on what really matters.
Family mediation is child focused so the welfare of any children will be the most important element of the discussions. It is a process designed to improve communication between parents and secure better outcomes for children, both in the short and longer terms. With an emphasis on healthy communication, it allows parents to find a good working relationship following separation. This in turn protects children from the more destructive aspects of a relationship breakdown.