Every family mediation is different. However, in general a mediation can take between one to six joint meetings each of which last around 90 minutes. The number of joint meetings needed is determined by the issues under discussion and how far along in the process the clients are.
In order to decide if mediation is suitable for you, each party is invited to attend a consultation on their own. During this meeting, I will explain fully the mediation process and what you can expect. You will also have an opportunity to tell me a little about the issues you want to discuss and ask any questions you may have. This initial meeting tends to take about an hour.
Joint mediation sessions
Once you have both agreed to mediate, all further meetings will be joint sessions with the me acting as an impartial third party. Similarly, all future communication will be with both of you to ensure that you are being dealt with in an even-handed way.
It is likely that you will attend anywhere between one and six joint sessions where I will help you with issues such as the financial disclosure process and any practical arrangements concerning your children.
If you have legal representation you can consult your solicitor at any time during the mediation process and there might be occasions that the mediator recommends receiving further legal or other professional advice on a particular issue.
Completion of the mediation
On completion of the mediation and once an agreement is reached I will prepare a detailed outline of mutually acceptable proposals. This document, together with a summary of any financial disclosure made during mediation, forms the basis on which your respective solicitors will draw up a legally binding agreement.
Accordingly, the main documents that I might prepare during the course of a mediation are:
An Open Financial Statement which records any financial disclosure that is made in the mediation process.
A Memorandum of Understanding which details the agreement reached in mediation. This is a document which is only prepared once you have reached a decision on the way forward. You will be encouraged to take legal advice on the proposals in this document and if appropriate obtain a Consent Order reflecting the agreement reached.
Any agreement reached in mediation concerning financial issues only becomes legally binding once it has been made into a Consent Order by solicitors which can then be approved by the courts without you having to attend. Your solicitors can use the Memorandum of Understanding to draft such an order without duplicating costs.
In children cases, it is not possible to have a legally binding agreement through mediation. However, research shows that child arrangements reached through discussion in mediation last longer than orders imposed by a judge. It is now firmly believed by the judicial system that children should not be the subject of court orders wherever possible.