K J Smith Solicitors

Divorce And Separation - Is Mediation A Better Option Than The Courts?

Published: 18 April 2013

Divorce and separation usually involves an emotional journey as well as a legal one. This can be a painful time. Emotions may run high and you may not feel as able to cope with stressful situations as usual. It’s important that you give careful thought as to how you want to deal with issues that arise from the new situation you’re in.

It’s sensible to take some independent advice about your legal position so you can make informed decisions before moving on.  Involving solicitors doesn’t automatically mean ending up at the doors of a court waiting for a Judge to make decisions for you.  There are other process options available alongside legal advice and mediation is one of these.

Like most things in life, it’s worth taking a few moments to find out exactly what mediation is and to consider whether it could help you.

So what is mediation?

From April 2011, the government encouraged those who wanted to make an application to court in relation to their children or to financial issues, to first attend an information meeting to see how mediation could help them. This requirement continues today.

There are four main principles of mediation:

  1. Mediation is voluntary
  2. Mediators are impartial and will not express a personal opinion
  3. Mediation is confidential (save in exceptional circumstances)
  4. All decisions remain in the hands of the participants

Because your mediator is neutral he/she will encourage you to take your own legal advice throughout the process. You will each need to nominate your own solicitor to do this but your costs can be less than the traditional court route.

Once an agreement has been reached within mediation, this can be recorded in what is known as a 'Consent Order' by solicitors who will file this at Court for approval by a Judge. Once approved you will have a legally binding Court Order. 

You might like to think about the following questions:

  • Do you feel able to sit round a table and to negotiate your own outcome with your partner and a neutral third person (the mediator) in a safe environment? 
  • Do you want to feel you’ve got control over the outcome? 
  • Do you want to draw issues to an end quickly? 
  • Do you want to look back and feel you separated in a respectful way in the best interests of your family? 

If the answer to any of these questions was yes, then you may want to find a mediator to help you further.

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