Using a mediator is different to using a lawyer. Separating couples can choose to use a mediator together, to assist in reaching agreements about their finances or their children.
Family mediation is an excellent way of helping couples resolve disputes that arise as a result of the breakdown of a relationship. Couples meet with a mediator, ideally together, and try and resolve the issues, with the mediator acting as a facilitator, in a safe and supportive and neutral environment.
Mediation can take place in person, with everyone in the same room, or in different rooms (shuttle mediation), or remotely by web conferencing.
At Boardman, Hawkins & Osborne LLP, we have our own in-house family mediators, Ruth Hawkins and Karen Newman. As well as being an experienced family lawyer and member of the Law Society’s Children Panel, Ruth has been a qualified family mediator since 2012. Karen is also an experienced family and matrimonial lawyer, and has also been a qualified Collaborative lawyer, and has recently qualified as a family mediator.
Ruth and Karen aim to deal with couples in a clear, non-judgmental manner, and assist them to find a way of dealing with, and resolving the issues that arise upon separation and/or divorce, in a pragmatic and sensible way; looking for solutions, rather than focusing on problems.
We also have close links with other external family mediators, who we can refer our own clients to, or who we can arrange to co-mediate, where that is appropriate or helpful.
Important points about mediation:
- It is voluntary.
- It is confidential (subject to anti-money laundering and child protection exceptions)
- It is impartial. The mediator cannot give either party any legal advice, although they can provide legal information.
Mediation keeps decision-making in your hands.
A mediator cannot give advice, and will recommend that you take legal advice alongside mediation, certainly at key points in the process.
Advantages to Mediation
- It is often a cheaper and quicker way of resolving family issues
- It can be a less stressful way of reaching agreement or finding solutions, and one of the key aims is to reduce conflict between you for the future, and to improve future communication
- It is a simple, yet flexible process, which can be tailored for your specific issues.
- It facilitates direct communication between you, rather than through lawyers, and can reduce longer-term hostility between you.
- It avoids lengthy (or any) correspondence
- The court’s involvement in your affairs is either minimal or non-existent
- You solve your problems together in discussion, and can take ownership of the process.
- The decisions reached are your own and tailored to your particular circumstances
- There is an increased likelihood of decisions reached standing the test of time, because you have come up with them yourselves
There are many areas that you might choose to mediate about:
- Divorce proceedings or separation
- Financial issues
- Arrangements about where the children should live, how often they should see each parents/grandparent etc.
- Communication issues
The list above is not exhaustive and there may be other areas that are suited to being discussed and dealt with in mediation.
Mediation can help couples at any time, whether before or after separation and whether or not legal proceedings have begun. Separation raises many problems that can often be resolved through mediation.