What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process during which a married or non-married couple meet to discuss matters pertaining to the division of assets, childcare arrangements, finances, and the future of their relationship, among other things, when seeking to or are currently separated.
During the process of mediation, the two parties will meet in the presence of a trained mediator to negotiate terms in relation to the aforementioned issues, as well as any further present or future needs of all parties involved.
Mediation is often viewed as a desirable alternative to court proceedings, offering a quicker and less expensive route to a potentially drawn-out court process.
What is the role of the mediator?
The role of the mediator during the mediation process is to meet with the couple together and take a non-biased view of the matters that need to be discussed once a couple has decided to go their separate ways.
During mediation, the mediator will seek to create a neutral environment that is safe and judgement-free for both parties. With the assistance of an impartial mediator, both parties are afforded the opportunity to reach an agreement that takes into consideration the often complex issues and subsequent options that are available to them once they have decided that the relationship is untenable.
In some instances, the mediator can offer to meet with both parties separately, or suggest alternative methods of communication such as via video-link.
How long does the mediation process take?
Depending on the circumstances of the separation, the mediation process can take place over one or two sessions, typically lasting one hour each. It is also not uncommon for the process to be spread out over a number of weeks if it is a particularly complicated case, and may take multiple sessions for all of the issues to be adequately examined.
What is the end result of mediation?
If both parties are happy with the mediation agreement and comply with the agreed upon terms, they will then be asked to sign a written document that outlines all relevant details of the couple’s arrangements. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘Note of Mediated Agreement’.
Should I contact a solicitor for mediation?
While it is not a legal requirement for a solicitor to be involved during the mediation process, it is advisable to consider doing so before, during, or after initiating proceedings. In some disputes, one or both parties may request that their solicitor be present during mediation if the case is expected to be problematic or intricate, or if an agreeable settlement cannot be reached.
It is also important to note that, while the Note of Mediated Agreement may be agreed upon by both parties at the time, it is not a legal document. Should you wish for the terms of the document to be legally binding, you may consider taking it to a solicitor be drawn into a legal contract, deed of separation, or used as the basis for a decree of separation.
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.*