Due to changes in legislation introduced by the Children & Families Act 2014, there has been a renewed emphasis on the importance of mediation in settling family disputes. But this option of settling disputes is still not that well known in the public domain. Mediation can prevent children being caught in the middle of messy divorce proceedings and can incur fewer costs and less stress on the partners involved. This is as opposed to court proceedings, if mediation is not utilized.
Today’s blog post features a guest piece on the subject of mediation by Alun Jones, Director of Alun Jones Family Law in Cardiff. Alun Jones is an accredited mediator and heads up the firm’s mediation practice.
As mediation is a fairly new concept to many, I trust that Alun Jones’ comprehensive article will inform readers who are facing a separation of the benefits of mediation:
Since the introduction of The Children and Families Act 2014, family dispute cases are now handled slightly differently. There is now a mandatory requirement that couples seeking certain Court Orders must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, a “MIAM”. There is limited scope in terms of exceptions to this rule, exceptions are permitted in cases of domestic abuse occurring within the relationship for example.
(MIAM) Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting
The aim of attending a MIAM and subsequent attendance at mediation, is to try and reach an understanding between the parties without the need to issue Court proceedings.
Mediation can be used to settle disputes surrounding property, children or settling financial disagreements.
Mediation is a more of an attractive option for couples with children. Mediation allows parents the possibility to settle disputes and avoid prolonged court proceedings, which may have adverse impact upon the children involved.
Parents may prefer mediation as family issues can be settled more quickly and will consider the best interests of all parties to reach a suitable outcome.
How does this process work?
One party can approach a qualified mediator, who will then in turn approach the other partner within the relationship. The whole process is overseen through a “neutral facilitator” (a Mediator) who will help make reaching a resolution a possibility between both parties.
After a MIAM both parties will be able to determine if mediation is the right course of action for them.
A MIAM presents the opportunity to inform both parts about the process of mediation and to assess suitability for a particular couple and the issues they have.
It will be the couple’s responsibility to inform the mediator of the issues they would like to discuss and potentially resolve and to be forthcoming with information needed in order to progress. Settling financial disputes when one party is not being transparent, can cause delays in mediation, or potentially make mediation not a viable option to resolve the issue at hand.
It is then the mediator’s responsibility to attempt to bring the couple to an agreement point and an understanding for how they can resolve their differences moving forward. This will not be achieved in a single session. The question of how many sessions are required will depend entirely on the level of cooperation between the parties.
It is advisable as it can potentially reduce costs for both partners and because it provides an opportunity to think about a possible outcome that they would be satisfied with as a final resolution. These initial proposals may show compromise or a level of reasonableness, which can assist mediation in the early stages of meeting your ex-partner.
Mediation also aims to build bridges between the separating and separated couple, if children are involved, so that the best interests of the child are considered and concentrated upon.
If a resolution can be constructed during mediation sessions, then mutually agreed statements can be written into what is called a “Memorandum of Understanding”.
What are the potential benefits of mediation?
Mediation can be a less stressful option than attending court.
For couples looking to end their relationship in a more amicable fashion then mediation maybe the best option.
Many couples prefer mediation as both partners retain control over what happens to their family. In court proceedings this control is handed over to a judge and both parties may walk away dissatisfied with the outcome.
Agreements reached in Mediation can later be amended if circumstances are to alter. This flexibility allows previous agreements to be revisited and altered with both party’s consent at a later stage if needed.
Many couples prefer the freedom that mediation can bring as opposed to the rigid nature of court proceedings.
Couples can schedule meeting times best suited to them. In terms of mediation and its duration, this is completely dependent on the couple’s progress and the level of complexity of the issues presented. Often issues presented around financial disputes or property can take longer to work through.
When can I start mediation?
Mediation can be started once both couples have acknowledged the relationship has ended.
About the author Alun Jones
In 2005 “Alun Jones Family Law” was established, which has developed into a successful niche Family Law practice offering specialist representation, advice and support on all issues pertaining to the separated family, including children and complex financial issues. Alun Jones Family Law prides itself on being able to offer a range of positive dispute resolution options for separating couples, including Family Mediation & Collaborative law.
Alun trained as a Collaborative Lawyer in 2009 and has a growing Collaborative caseload. Alun is treasurer of the Collaborative Law in Wales POS.
In 2012 Alun completed intensive training with Resolution to become a Family Lawyer Mediator. Alun Jones Family Law now has a growing mediation caseload.
To find out more about Alun Jones and his mediation practice please click here
Please note that I am not affiliated in any way to Alun Jones Family Law. This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Thank you for reading this post.