Q&A: Family Mediation
This week sees the start of Family Mediation Week (18th – 22nd January 2021). We thought it might be helpful to explain a little more about how family mediation works and what to expect.
Many separating couples would like to come to an amicable agreement about their children or financial affairs without resorting to litigation or relying on negotiations through solicitors. Family mediation can create a safe space to help you to reach an agreement, whether or not you have appointed solicitors.
In this Q&A style blog on family mediation, we cover the questions clients regularly ask us about family mediation.
- What is family mediation?
Family mediation is a voluntary process which the Courts actively encourage. You and your partner meet with a neutral mediator to discuss the issues between you. The family mediator encourages communication, helping you to clarify issues, explore options and test which will work in practice. If you go on to reach an agreement, this can be recorded in a document which although not legally binding, can be made into a legally binding agreement if you wish.
Family mediators have a range of backgrounds – some are also family lawyers, but others have a therapeutic background. All family mediators will have undergone specialist training and are governed by a Code of Conduct.
- What issues can family mediation cover?
Family mediators can deal with all and any family issues including finance and housing matters to children matters, including residence and contact issues, international relocation of children and schooling, and mediation in relation to pre- and post-nuptial, civil partnership and cohabitation agreements.
- Can family mediation take place at any point in my divorce/separation?
Yes. Family mediation can take place at any time and at any stage in the legal process. It is rarely too early or too late for family mediation.
- How does it work?
At FLiP, our policy is to speak to both parties before arranging appointments for mediation to ensure that you both understand the process. We will usually then meet you and your partner separately to determine whether family mediation is appropriate in your particular case. If it is, we will arrange the first mediation appointment which will involve you, your partner and the family mediator together in one room.
During the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns, we have been conducting family mediation meetings using video conferencing, but in normal times these meetings take place face to face at our offices in Central London.
- Why would I use family mediation rather than just using my solicitor to resolve the issues?
Family mediation has a number of advantages over the traditional Court process:
- Almost any family dispute can be resolved in mediation. The process is extremely flexible and can be tailored to your particular needs and the issues that you want to discuss.
- Unlike the Court process where a judge will be appointed and the process is fixed, you choose the family mediator and remain in control of the process. In our experience this can lead to longer lasting settlements than those which are imposed by the Courts.
- Family mediation is considerably cheaper than any legal process.
- Family mediation is a confidential process. Because of this it can promote discussions and concessions that would not be possible in the Court process. Agreement is, therefore, much more likely.
- The confidential nature of family mediation also means that it is ideal for those seeking privacy and discretion.
- Who pays for it and how much does it cost?
It is up to you and your partner to decide who pays for the family mediation sessions. If you can’t agree, you will each be responsible for paying your half of the overall cost.
At FLiP family mediation is charged by reference to our hourly rates, details of which are set out here. Our current hourly rates range from £305 for child inclusive mediation to £555 for co-mediation.
- Is it legally binding?
It can be. If you and your partner reach an agreement in mediation, this can be recorded in a document which although not legally binding, can be made into a legally binding agreement if you wish.
- Can children be involved in family mediation?
Children are not automatically involved in the family mediation sessions but mediators have a special duty to encourage parents to consider their children’s wishes and feelings. It is important that the views of the children are taken into account in issues that directly involve them.
The mediators’ Code of Conduct provides that all children and young people aged 10 and above should be offered the opportunity to have their voices heard directly during the mediation. At FLiP we offer child inclusive mediation if you would like your children involved in the mediation process. When child inclusive mediation takes place the mediator will, with the child’s consent, feed their views back into the overall mediation process.
At FLiP we offer unparalleled expertise in mediation. We are the only firm to be ranked top tier for family mediation in London, a position that we have held for over 5 years. Legal 500 UK describes FLiP’s mediation team as ‘pioneering and market-leading’ and notes that Dominic Raeside, the head of our mediation practice, is an ‘outstanding mediator’.
Tune in later this week to listen to a podcast featuring Dominic Raeside with more Q&A on family mediation.
“The mediation service was excellent”
“I would recommend Family Law in Partnership to anyone who needed mediation”
“I felt that my dilemma was understood and appreciated”
“The process was particularly helpful in counterbalancing the fear and insecurity which divorce raises”
“We found the sessions invaluable”
“Excellent, empathetic with a detailed knowledge of the different emotional issues that clients experience during divorce and separation”
For more information on family mediation and how our expert family mediators can help you, please visit our dedicated family mediation page here, or contact us at E: email@example.com or T: 020 7420 5000.