But while the headline process may be easier, couples going through the legal stage of break-up are still experiencing many challenges. Heralded as a new dawn for parting couples, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 aimed to streamline the divorce process when it became law in April 2022. The legislation has made divorce less
During the two day mediation, with the help of Sarah, the Mediator, my Husband and I discussed the best way to end our marriage as amicably and cost effective as possible. Sarah was a great help to keep the meeting on track and focus on the issues at hand.
- What is a mediation information and assessment meeting?
A mediation information and assessment meeting or MIAM for short will be your initial meeting with your chosen mediator. The mediator will explain how mediation works, discuss the cost involved and inform you as to how many sessions they feel you may need. The MIAM can be attended together or separately and takes on about 45 minutes.
If you want to take your case to Court it is now usually compulsory to attend the MIAM, save for if your application falls into an exempted category. Examples of applications that fall into this category are those which are urgent or those where there are concerns about child protection.
The MIAM is an opportunity for your mediator to determine whether mediation is right for you and take you through the next steps in the process. If mediation is not the appropriate route for you then your mediator can sign the necessary part of your application which will then allow to file your application at court.
- What will I need to bring to mediation?
Your mediator will help you understand what documentation you will need to bring along to your mediation meetings.
If your mediation involves finances you will need to bring along financial information such as any documents or detail relating to the things you own and owe and anything you share with the other party; such as a car or bank accounts. This disclosure will help you both work out your financial position so that you can then move on to discuss arrangements which enable you both to move forward.
If your mediation relates to child arrangements then information such as details of the family home, the arrangement in place for you or the other party to visit the child(ren), the child maintenance being paid (if applicable) will be helpful at your mediation meetings. This information can then be used to draw up options for the child(ren) and help you both reach an arrangement that is in the best interests of the child(ren) and yourselves.
It is a good idea to make two copies of any documentation you bring to mediation – one for the other party and one for your mediator.
- What will be discussed in a mediation session?
Each meeting, dependent on the reason why you are attending mediation, will aim to facilitate discussions which help you and the other party move closer towards resolving your dispute. The mediator will help promote your negotiations so that you reach an arrangement which considers all options, resolves your dispute and suits everyone involved.
If you are mediating to work out child arrangements then the mediator is likely to focus on discovering what arrangement in the best interest of your child(ren) can be successfully put in place. The mediator will give you a document called a Memorandum of Understanding which summarises your discussions throughout mediation.
If your mediation relates to finances then the main focus of your mediation meetings will be to understand your financial position. This is done by working together with the mediator to provide all the necessary documentation related to your finances so that you can then begin to discuss how exactly you and the other party can arrange your finances to meet both your needs and any needs of your children if applicable.
- How can I be sure the mediation process will be fair?
You can stop the mediation process at any point if you ever feel that it is unfair. However, the role of the mediator is to be entirely impartial and to facilitate negotiations and this means that the mediator will not side with you or the other party at any point throughout your mediation.
- Can what I say in mediation be used against me later?
Anything that you discuss at mediation is kept confidential. This means that all points raised during your meetings cannot then be referred to in court proceedings. If mediation does not help you to resolve your dispute, no detail as to why this happened can ever be shared with the court.
- Is mediation legally binding?
Any arrangements made through mediation are not legally binding, however they can be made into a legally binding agreement.
To do so, you can create a contractual agreement with the other party or have the court approve your financial settlement – we recommend that you seek legal advice during these processes. Our specialist, experienced mediators can work with you to ensure that you fully understand the detail of arrangements reached during mediation. We help you to make these arrangements legally binding by providing professional, friendly advice tailored to your aims and circumstances.
- Is mediation like counselling?
Mediation differs from counselling because it is by nature neutral and non-judgmental. Mediation is a process which aims to help you settle disputes related to separation or divorce that may not have been resolved through Relationship Counselling.
- What if my partner or ex-partner refuses to mediate?
Mediation relies on the voluntary involvement of both parties who are willing to discuss options and establish viable arrangements that suit both your needs. If a party is unwilling to mediate then this means that mediation cannot continue.
If the other party does not wish to mediate you can schedule a mediation information and assessment meeting for yourself. Once you have attended, the mediator can fill out the necessary part of your form which then allows you to file your application at court. You can mediate at the time that is best for you and we are always here to help if, for example, your circumstances change and you and your partner or ex-partner then agrees to attend mediation.
- How much will mediation cost?
The cost of private mediation is dependent on the rate charged by the chosen mediator. The rate charged can vary from hourly, per session or on a case by case basis which means that asking questions about costs is something that we recommend doing before you book your sessions.
You may be entitled to legal aid if you have low income and capital. If you believe you qualify for legal aid then you should contact a mediator who is qualified to offer legal aid mediation and this mediator will then arrange for your mediation sessions to be funded by the Legal Aid Agency.
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