Family Mediation FAQ

Who can use family mediation?

Family mediation can be used by family members affected by a divorce or separation. Those eligible may be:

• Couples undergoing divorce, civil partnership dissolution or separation (for co-habiting couples)

• Parents

• Grandparents looking to maintain contact with grandchildren

• Children over the age of 18

• Any other family members who are adversely affected by relationship issues

Which issues are involved in family mediation?

Any of the following issues may be resolved using a family mediation service:

• Financial matters including the separation of assets like property, pensions, possessions

• Contact and residence arrangements for children

• Maintenance payments following a separation

• Arrangements relating to holidays

• Settlement of debts

• Wills and probate

• Matters relating to schooling for children

What are the advantages of family mediation?

Family mediation is generally considered to offer various benefits. Primarily, it has been found to be faster and cheaper than court proceedings in most cases and many believe that it also encourages a communicative and amicable process. Parties are able to meet in a neutral venue and explore all areas of concern under the guidance of a fully qualified mediator. The process avoids the formality of court and allows parties to negotiate in order to reach an enduring final agreement. If either party is dissatisfied with proceedings they can stop the process and many people enjoy this control. Given that the process is less acrimonious than court proceedings, couples are generally able to maintain amicable relations afterwards.

Does mediation create a legally binding agreement?

The agreements made during the mediation process are not legally binding. Instead they are drafted into a Memorandum of Understanding which can then be made legally binding either by Memorandum of Understanding solicitors or with a court order. Obtaining such a court order would not require attendance at court.

Mediation is generally seen as an alternative to litigation and is popularly considered to be a good way to resolve disputes out-of court. Nevertheless, court proceedings are still most commonly used.

However, mediation and court proceedings increasingly overlap. Sometimes, mediation will be used in an attempt to speed up court proceedings. Indeed, in many cases the court now refers cases for family mediation to see if couples can succeed with the method.

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