Family breakups are one of the most stressful and upsetting processes anyone can go through. This is particularly true if there are children involved, and/or the separation is not amicable. Utilising our expertise in Family Mediation and Collaborative Law we are able to offer alternatives to the standard model of separately instructing a solicitor to negotiate on your behalf and making court applications.
Our family team are committed to supporting clients through this difficult time and delivering the best outcome. Each process has its place, but it is good to know that there are options, and you can choose the best one to help you with advice from our team.
Mediation enables you to reach a compromise with respect to financial arrangements and arrangements for your children. The process involves you attending usually between 1 and 3 meetings with an impartial and trained mediator. It is the mediator’s job to facilitate you to come to an agreement and to draw up a Memorandum of Understanding which you both consider fair and acceptable. At this point there is no court intervention, although it may be a good idea to obtain advice from a solicitor whilst in mediation; particularly in relation to financial matters.
Mediation allows you both to stay in control when sorting out the future for yourself and your family. It can reduce the amount of antagonism that divorces often generate and is particularly beneficial when trying to keep proceedings calm if there are children involved.
It is often easier to manage the costs in mediation.
A further benefit of mediation is that it is flexible and it can cover what you as a couple want it to which can give far greater scope than court proceedings. The discussions in mediation are strictly confidential and so it is possible to speak freely and directly to one and another, facilitated by the Mediator.
Depending on how well you can communicate with your ex-partner and how many issues are under consideration will influence how long the family mediation process takes.
Generally if both parties are open to the idea of meditation and the process is successful it will be much quicker than going through court proceedings. Each session has a maximum length of 1.5 hours and it is unusual to need more that 3 sessions.
Mediation is a voluntary process however the courts will point divorcing couples in the direction of mediation before they escalate matters to the family court. In circumstances where domestic violence or safety may be a concern you may be exempt.
This is a Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting. Unless you are exempt, you are required to attend a MIAM before you can issue a court application. This is a good thing as it will inform you of the options available to you and consider whether court can be avoided.
The agreement/Memorandum of Understanding is not legally binding, so you will need the assistance of a solicitor or the ability to make it legally binding by preparing documents that are then approved by the Court.
Seona Myerscough, Partner and Head of the Family Team, is a trained mediator and a member of both the FMA and the FMC. Seona is also a founder member of Reading Family Mediation, further information can be obtained from their website as to the nature of this organisation and the services which are offered.
Please note that it is not possible to have Gardner Leader both as your solicitor and to use the mediation service. In other words, you are not able to see one of our solicitors and then have them continue to advise you whilst Seona Myerscough is the mediator. However, if you are sure that you would like to take up the option of mediation then the best course of action is to speak to Seona directly and she can determine if the service is the right one for you and your former partner/spouse.
Please contact Seona on 01635 508192 or alternatively email [email protected]Watch our Family Law FAQs playlist on YouTube
Collaborative Law is a process by which a separating couple can come to an agreement about the issues which need to be resolved on the breakdown of their relationship. This might be agreeing a financial settlement or making arrangements for their children. Collaborative Law is different to a more traditional approach because although both parties have their own solicitors, the solicitors are collaboratively trained and all negotiations and discussions take place in a series of meetings (called four way meetings).
At the first meeting, you will all sign a Participation Agreement confirming that you are using the collaborative process and that neither of you will issue court proceedings (except to obtain an divorce and a financial order by consent). If you are unable to reach an agreement on the issues during the collaborative process and one of you needs to issue an application to the court so that the Judge can make a decision, then both collaborative solicitors have to stop working for you and new solicitors need to be appointed. This is a significant difference from the traditional use of solicitors but encourages both the parties and their solicitors to do their very best to try and resolve everything by agreement.
We have a number of collaboratively trained solicitors who will be happy to talk to you about the process to help you decide if it is right for you.
Please contact one of our team below if you would like more information about the collaborative law process.
For more information on how we can help you through family mediation or through the collaborative law process, please contact one of our family specialists in our Newbury, Thatcham or Maidenhead offices below.