Family mediation

The process of separating is difficult for any couple, but family mediation can help you reach mutually agreed solutions on any issues which arise, in a non confrontational way.   

What is family mediation?

Family mediation is a confidential process in which a neutral third person helps a separating couple to reach their own agreed decisions about issues arising from the separation, from arrangements for their children to achieving a financial settlement. 
It can be used by any couple whether married, unmarried or in a civil partnership.

What is the role of the mediator?

The mediator is a neutral professional who has been trained to facilitate and evaluate proposals for solutions for a couple, using various techniques to improve dialogue and empathy between them. Some mediators are lawyers. Some have therapeutic backgrounds such as family therapists.
The mediator’s role is to act as a facilitator and they have no power to force the couple to do anything or to impose any decision upon them. They do not give advice, but do give information about legal principles. 

What are the different kinds of mediation?

Most lawyer mediators operate either co-mediation or sole mediation models.
In co-mediation, a lawyer mediator co-mediates with another mediator who is from a therapeutic background such as a family therapist. The two mediators work in a collaborative way bringing their different skills to the process. 
In sole mediation, the lawyer mediator works on their own with the couple. 
Our partners Jessica Reid and Amy Rowe are trained to provide sole mediation.

When can you enter mediation?

You can go into mediation at any time; before you have separated, during negotiations, or at an advanced stage of litigation. You can even go into mediation during the collaborative process.
Before issuing a court application about your children or for a financial remedies order, you will normally first be required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

What happens in a typical mediation?

Before the mediation begins, the mediator will speak to each of you or, if that isn’t possible, will communicate with you by email, to arrange the first session. They will send you a Mediation Referral Form and ask you to complete it and bring it to the first session. At the first mediation session you will also be asked to sign an Agreement to Mediate Form. 
Mediations take place with the couple in the same room as the mediator. Generally speaking, unless there is an urgent issue requiring an immediate decision, the first session is used to identify what the issues are that the couple want to address and an agenda for doing so. 
Where the issue to be mediated is the reaching of a financial settlement, the couple will provide disclosure forms and any further documentation and information that either may request of the other, until they are satisfied that they have enough information to make an informed decision. 
When you and your spouse have agreed terms these are recorded by the mediator in a Memorandum of Understanding. 

Is an agreement reached in mediation binding?

Agreements made in mediation are not legally binding.  You will need to take any Memorandum of Understanding to your own solicitor who will advise on its terms and, if appropriate, will draft a consent order to put before the court for approval by a judge. 

How long does the mediation process take?

Mediation is a bespoke process controlled by the couple themselves. They decide what issues they want to mediate, for how long they want to mediate and how often they want to meet.
Each mediation session lasts around an hour and most mediations involve around 6-8 sessions.

What if you’re uncomfortable about being in the same room?

Family mediators will not allow you to mediate if they have concerns about your safety.  They will not allow the mediation to continue if they feel that you are being unduly pressurised or if it is being used by one of you as a tactic to delay a resolution through the courts. Sometimes,“shuttle” mediation can be arranged, where the mediator speaks with you alone then speaks to your partner separately.
Mediation is a voluntary process and you can withdraw at any time, if you no longer wish to participate.

Does mediation mean that there are no lawyers?

Mediating doesn’t mean that you are excluded from taking independent legal advice. Indeed most mediators much prefer that a mediating couple should be represented by lawyers whilst they are mediating. When we refer our own clients to mediation, we always continue to advise them throughout the process as and when needed. 

Why choose mediation?

The process is confidential and impartial. It is voluntary; you only stay in the process, so long as both of you want to. It is less confrontational than normal negotiation or litigation. You have greater control over what is happening. Finally, it is much cheaper than litigating through the courts. 

Why Dawson Cornwell?

We have long recognised, and promoted in our practice, the benefits of mediation.  Our founder John Cornwell was one of the first lawyers in the country ever to be trained as a mediator. He was the co-founder of the Family Mediators Association. Our consultant Rhiannon Lewis was a trained mediation trainer.  

Our current mediator is Jessica Reid who is a Resolution trained “all issues” mediator.

Not only are we able to provide mediation to couples who are referred to us by other solicitors, but we also frequently refer our own clients to other mediators whom we consider possess the necessary skills and expertise for properly controlled and effective mediation.  

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