What is mediation?
We put this in our FAQs because people always feel bad about asking what they think are silly questions. But actually it’s a good starting point. We hope you’ve watched the video on our home page as that gives a good introduction. Mediation is where a separating couple directly discuss the things they think they need to sort out. Usually they sit in the same room and the mediator facilitates their discussions, tries to help them get passed sticking points, and acts as a note taker to record things that are discussed, or the next steps each party will take. The benefits of using a mediator who is also a qualified family lawyer, are that they understand the process and can provide a wealth of information about the process of divorce and separation to assist the couple.
Lawyers have been aware of the mediation process for some time. Mediation is now becoming more well known by the general public and we find that many people are coming to us directly, rather than being referred by their lawyer. You can tailor the mediation process to you. Generally lawyers are not present during mediation, but if you feel that a session with your lawyer present would assist then we can set that up.
We are passionate about the benefits of mediation and so we are happy to do what we can to make you feel that mediation could work for you. Your mediation means your process so if you have any concerns then please talk to the mediator to see if we can address those concerns and make mediation work for you.
Is mediation suitable for everyone?
The short answer to this is yes. There are very few reasons why mediation could not work if both parties are willing to enter into the process. Before mediation begins we meet with each person separately to explain the process and answer any questions that they may have. This is important because you are more likely to get on board with a process if you understand it and can see how it works. We only move to starting 3 way meetings (i.e where both parties and the mediator are present) once both parties, and the mediator, are satisfied that they want to start mediation. There may be circumstances where the mediator feels the matter is not suitable for mediation. This would include a situation where the mediator may feel one person is likely to be manipulated or coerced into agreeing something in mediation that they should not. If the mediator feels the matter is not suitable for mediation then they will explain the reasons to you.
It is also important that the mediator remains an impartial person. For this reason the mediator cannot keep a secret for either party. You must be willing to share any information that you give to the mediator with the other party. If you were to give the mediator some information that you are not willing to share then the mediator would not be able to embark upon mediation with you.
Do I need a lawyer to attend mediation?
No, in the sense that there’s no requirement for you to have a lawyer acting for you. But you might want to think about taking some advice from a lawyer because it is often helpful to the discussions if each person has a reasonable expectation of what can be achieved. The mediator can provide a wealth of useful information to assist you, because they are a qualified family lawyer, but they cannot advise either of you at any point. It is crucial that the mediator remains impartial. If the mediator feels it would be helpful at some point in the mediation for the parties to take legal advice then they will explain this. We can suggest some friendly and approachable local lawyers to assist you.
Is everything we agree in mediation binding?
The idea of mediation is to give each separating couple the tools and the process to discuss ideas about the arrangements they will put in place following their separation. Generally those arrangements will concern any children, where each party will live and how they will separate their money (but it isn’t limited to that and you can discuss any relevant issue in mediation). Each party needs to feel free to make suggestions and to openly discuss ideas they have, and their reservations. So neither party will be bound until such time as they are satisfied that they wish to be bound by an agreement. Once you reach this stage you can then take advice from lawyers about formalising the process, or you can seek to do this yourself if you wish.
Can you mediate civil disputes?
At LKW Family mediation we are focused on family mediation but we do have a contact who can undertake civil mediation work. Please contact us if you require more information.
What happens if mediation is not successful?
It’s natural to feel concerned and a bit anxious about something new, and part of that is wondering what happens if mediation doesn’t help you to find a resolution. The good news is that mediation does have a good success rate in helping couples to find a resolution that works for them and their family. But if it’s not successful there are other avenues that you can try. At our initial meeting the mediator will explain the different ways of resolving disputes that arise when you separate – and give you a leaflet that summarises that information. You shouldn’t feel that if mediation fails you have to go to court – there are often other avenues. Arbitration is a relatively new option and it acts like private court proceedings (as opposed to NHS court proceedings). It may be possible to arrange mediation so that an arbitrator decides any issues that you can’t resolve in mediation. You can talk to the mediator about other avenues at any point.