What is family mediation?
Mediation is not marriage guidance or counselling. It is a process for couples who have decided to separate or divorce and who would prefer to negotiate their own future arrangements with the assistance of a Family Mediator, rather than through solicitors or in court. The Mediator, who is completely neutral, can help them consider options and can give legal information (though not individual advice) when appropriate. The couple work with their Mediator discussing parenting issues and finances, together and in total privacy, and reach conclusive decisions about their future finances and arrangements for their children.
Are we able to discuss parenting issues?
Yes, children’s welfare is paramount so it is vital that both parties reach agreement on arrangements for their upbringing.
Do I have to mediate?
No, mediation is a voluntary process; however if you wish to go to court you must first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with a qualified Family Mediator. At this meeting the mediation process will be explained and your suitability for it discussed. You can then decide if you wish to continue down the mediation route or start legal proceedings, in which case the Mediator can supply you with the relevant form FM1 in order for you to apply to the Courts.
Do we have to be in the same room?
No, as Mediators we prefer everyone to be together, but it is your process so if one or both of you does not feel able to share a room we will provide one each and move between the two.
How long does mediation take?
Typically mediation takes between two and four sessions, the time between sessions depends on your wishes as clients (and how long it takes to gather relevant and required information), normally sessions are about a month apart. The average time for a case to be completed through mediation is 4 months, compared with 15 months in court. (The Times, 23rd February, 2011)
How long is each mediation session?
At Aim each session is two hours. However this is flexible, so if a bit more time is needed to conclude a particular topic this can be made available, similar flexibility can be applied if a session comes to a natural early conclusion.
What does it cost?
Mediation is charged at £120 per hour. MIAM’s, which are attended individually, are charged at a flat rate of £70 per person (MIAM sessions last a maximum of one hour).
COST OF DOCUMENTS; Financial Summary £125 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) £200 Summaries £50 Financial Summaries and MOU’s will be required as part of a legally binding settlement. There are no extra charges for associated letters, e-mails or phone calls during the mediation process. The average cost of a mediated settlement is £1,500 as against £15,000 via the legal route of Courts and lawyers. (No VAT is payable on these charges)
Are mediated agreements legally binding?
Any agreement reached in mediation can be made legally binding. Whatever agreement you jointly reach can be written up into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by your Mediator which can then be turned into a Separation or Consent Order by the Court. Similarly your Mediator can draw up an Open Financial Statement (OFS) detailing your finance and property assets which can be used by the Court to approve your financial arrangements. The process for obtaining a Consent or Separation Order will be explained by your Mediator.
Solicitors, do I still need one?
This is entirely up to you, if you feel more comfortable having a Solicitor look over any provisional agreement, you are welcome to do so. Similarly it may be that your Mediator recommends you take legal advice on a particular point in order to clarify your legal position. A major benefit of mediation is that once you have come to an agreement and your Mediator has written it up as a Memorandum of Understanding, you only need one Solicitor to turn it into a consent order for the Court, not one each, once again keeping costs down.