Mediation

When to attend mediation

Prospective applicants must attend a MIAM before making an application to the court for determination of most issues.

In certain circumstances prospective applicants are exempt from the MIAM requirement.  The categories of MIAM exemptions are contained in rule 3.8 FPR.  They include:

  • domestic violence
  • child protection concerns
  • related proceedings being issued in the previous 4 months
  • urgency
  • disability leading to an inability to facilitate a MIAM
  • lack of contact details for respondents
  • imprisonment/bail conditions preventing engagement
  • non-residency in England and Wales
  • that a child would be one of the prospective parties
  • unavailability of MIAM facilities.

Prior to having a joint session, both parties to mediation must have attended  a MIAMS session individually with Reena Ghai.  If both parties are willing to attend mediation together, and this is assessed by Reena to be safe, the meeting will be conducted jointly.  Otherwise separate meetings will be held known as shuttle mediation can be set up.

At the MIAM you will be provided information about mediation, ways in which the dispute may be resolved otherwise than by the court, and the suitability of mediation for trying to resolve the dispute.  The existence of any risk or domestic violence or harm to a child will be assessed. .

If you are not suitable for mediation resolve the dispute, you will provide a mediator’s exemption indicating that mediation is not suitable as a means of resolving the dispute when will mean you should seek legal advice to discuss the next stage of the process.

How can mediation help in Divorce/Child Arrangements/Finances

When parties are unable to sort things out between them, then it is worth considering mediation. Mediation is a means for the parties to talk between each other in the presence of an independent professional, a mediator. It should not be confused with counselling or marriage guidance which deals with party’s emotions and the relationships. If parties go to mediation, it assumes that the relationship has broken down and that both parties wish to attempt to sort out any disputes they may have regarding their children, home, finances or legal practicalities. Mediation looks at ways of resolving disputes as a result of the relationship break-up. Mediation is seen as a way of avoiding the court process. It can avoid much stress, time and money.

Are there winners and losers?

At the end of mediation, the parties should feel that they are neither a winner nor a loser, but that they have come to a sensible arrangement that both parties can live with. In other words, it helps to sort out a workable compromise.

What is the advantage?

Mediation can help to reduce tension, anger and misunderstandings and improve communication between the parties. And communication is, after all, vital when trying to reach a settlement. This is especially important if there are children involved as both parties will probably have to co-operate over their care and upbringing for some years to come.

Can children use mediation too?

Some mediators, including National Family Mediation, also offer services for children. Most children, usually from the age of six, benefit by being able to discuss their feelings with someone outside their family. After discussing their feelings, usually including fears of abandonment, anger and sadness, children can then get back to being children.

Would mediation suit the client?

Parties can use mediation whether or not they are married and whether or not they have children. It can be used at any stage in their negotiations if both parties feel that it could help. A mediator is trained to create and maintain a sense of balance in parties’ discussions but if domestic violence is an issue, they should consult a solicitor for advice. Both parties have to come to the negotiating table on equal terms and be willing to share information with each other. If parties want to use mediation but do not want their partner to know their address or phone number, the client should tell the mediator at once. Parties can also request a separate waiting area before meeting with the mediator.

Would the client still need a solicitor?

In most cases, yes. Mediators can give provide general information about the law but they cannot give the client personal advice. It is best to see a solicitor before and during the mediation process so that they can inform the client of their rights are and where they stand on financial issues. It could be a thankless task if parties reach agreement without independent legal advice as this could be challenged in court at a later date. The client may be losing patience with all these procedures and may wish to bring them to a conclusion but always rely on their own personal lawyer. Client will also need a solicitor to draw up any agreement at the end of this process. This could then be made into a court order.

What can client expect at the first mediation meeting?

Meetings take place in a private and safe place. Usually there is only the mediator (sometimes two) and the client together with their partner. The setting is informal and first names are normally used. The mediator would explain the process to the parties and answer any questions. The parties would then be asked about the issues they may wish to discuss. A list may be drawn up and both parties may be asked to supply information for the next meeting. A mediator is unable to make decisions for the parties but can facilitate an atmosphere where both parties can both explore different solutions. The mediator will not take sides and will try to ensure both parties are heard on equal terms.

How many sessions can client expect and how much will it cost?

This of course depends on the nature of the problems but, generally, two to four sessions, each lasting about an hour and a half. There is no standard fee. If one mediator is unable to help, they may suggest another. Client may also be eligible for Legal Aid (via Legal Aid Agency) funding if they are on a low wage, on benefits and don’t have much capital or savings. This used to be called Community Legal Services. If client is already receiving this funding for legal advice, then they may be required to try mediation.  However we do not undertake public funding Mediation work.

Would everything discussed be treated as confidential?

Nothing is passed on to a third person unless both parties agree. What the parties say in mediation cannot be used in court if mediation breaks down but this does not apply to the facts provided regarding income and property for example. But if the mediator thinks that a child or adult is at risk of harm or has been harmed, then she will stop the proceedings and take suitable action, usually involving the police or social services

Direction Consultation with children.

Reena Ghai also undertakes direction consultation with children.

This  involves a family mediator, who is trained as a child consultant, talking with children as a part of a mediation process which includes child arrangements. Children’s aged 10 and above should generally have access to a mediator.

It is important that parents understand the views, needs and desires of their children: involving them in the mediation process may be a good way doing this. Although the children need to understand that they are not responsible for the final decision, children like to be kept informed of the mediation process.

Direct consultation with a child means the mediator talking separately with the child which will be confidential and the parents will not be informed unless the child asks. ;

Involving children in mediation can be very complex and a great deal of preparation is required which includes considering of age, maturity and the parents agreement. ,

The child can either meet with the mediator who is already working with the parents or, as often happens, with a different mediator

 

Please note if you attend mediation with our firm, we cannot provide legal advice or represent any party in litigation.