What is Family Mediation? 10 FAQs

What is Family Mediation?

What is family mediation and why is it a good idea for you and your family? Family mediation offers a low cost, fast route to reaching an agreement with your ex. Finding the right mediator could mean your children are given a voice, too. Sadly children often feel lost and confused in the aftermath of a relationship breakdown.

But how do you find the right mediator? Consult an experienced family lawyer for a recommendation.

1. What is Family Mediation

A trained mediator will help you to identify the issues between you and to reach an agreement. And if you can’t sit in the same room as your ex there can be ‘shuttle’ mediation.

But please take expert legal advice alongside the mediation process. Why? The mediator can’t advise you of your rights.

2. What does mediation cover

Whether married, in a civil partnership, or cohabitees, when a relationship breaks down there’s a lot to think about:

  • what’s going to happen to the family home
  • what are the best arrangements for the children
  • how much child support should be paid
  • how should the savings and pensions be divided

3. What is hybrid mediation

You both take your solicitors along with you to mediation. Why? Their presence can help keep things objective – especially if there’s conflict between you and your ex. Your solicitor can advise you, and can even speak on your behalf. Hybrid mediation is also helpful where a legal issue is getting in the way of settling your dispute.

4. What are the advantages of mediation

  • narrows and resolves issues with the help of a third party
  • cheaper and faster than going to Court
  • you can tailor an agreement to fit your family
  • children can be heard
  • you and your ex can move forward amicably

5. What about international families

Reaching an agreement with your ex can be challenging if one of you lives away, or even abroad. Some family lawyers offer Skype mediation. Here at Just Family Law we offer this at our Winchester office.

6. Why do I need legal advice during mediation

Mediators don’t give legal advice. What can you expect from a family lawyer during the mediation process? – they can:

  • recommend a mediator
  • advise you what a fair outcome would be
  • support you through the process

7. What happens when we’ve reached an agreement

The mediator records your agreement in a Memorandum of Understanding – however it’s not legally binding. How can you safeguard your agreement and avoid misunderstandings in the future? The answer is that you need a consent order.

8. What’s a consent order and how do I get one

A consent order is absolutely essential. Your solicitor will be able to prepare it for you. See my blog How do I get a Consent Order.

9. How can the lawyers at Just Family Law help me

We can:

  • provide in-house civil mediation for cohabitees when they can’t agree about their family home
  • recommend a suitable family mediator
  • support you in hybrid mediation
  • host Skype mediations in our Winchester office when your ex lives away or abroad
  • give you advice and support in the background as your mediation proceeds
  • prepare a consent order for you

Mediators are often solicitors, but not necessarily – many fully trained mediators are not solicitors. But please note: your solicitor and mediator can’t be the same person, or even in the same firm.

10. What is Family Mediation? – next steps …

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on What is Family Mediation? In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post What is Family Mediation? are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know

considering divorce

Considering divorce? Here are some quick pointers to set you off in the right direction.

1. Everyone will have an opinion

Yes, that’s your family and friends, your neighbours and your colleagues at work. Even your Facebook friends. This can be distracting if you’re trying to figure out what to do. Struggling to see the wood for the trees? Time to get advice from an experienced family lawyer.

2. Try not to make a drama out of the divorce petition

A divorce petition can simply be a means to an end. You want to get divorced? – filling out the paperwork is how to go about it. Only you, your ex and the Court are ever likely to see the divorce petition, so try if you can not to fall out about it. If possible, agree which one of you is going to issue it and agree what it’s going to say. See my blog, Grounds for Divorce, 5 Things you Need to Know.

There are so many other more important things to focus on right now.

However if there’s been domestic abuse, or you believe the children are at risk, please seek immediate advice from an experienced family lawyer.

3. Address the finances

You can’t just leave things hanging, not indefinitely, because you will both be moving on. Important decisions need to be made about the assets – who gets what – and about child maintenance. See my blogs How do you Split Assets in a Divorce and What are your Child Maintenance Options? 

The divorce and the finances can run in parallel, see my blog What Comes First, Divorce or SettlementIf you can agree it all between you, that’s great. But please get legal advice on your rights – a one off appointment won’t cost much. After all, this is the rest of your life.

You both need closure and certainty when it comes to the finances. This means a Court order. But this doesn’t mean you have to attend at the Court, or that it will cost you a fortune – it can be a simple process. See my blog How to get a Consent Order? A Simple Guide.

4. The lawyers don’t have to win

Try to talk to your ex even if it’s really hard. If you fall out you may have to put everything into the lawyers’ hands. Worst case scenario, it all ends up in Court. This could cost you a great deal. Try these alternative approaches:

5. Pension or family home?

If you’re thinking you want to stay in the family home, come what may, take a moment to think. A share of your ex’s pension might be more valuable to you, long term. In many years time when you retire, you might discover that your ex is sitting pretty with a huge pension. Whereas you’re scrabbling around with a tiny pension and a big house that needs lots of maintenance.

This might be an opportunity to plan for the future. Perhaps you can downsize, release some capital for your ex, and get a share of their pension in return? This may take a little extra effort but might be worth it in the long term. Speak to an experienced family lawyer.

6. Ring fencing assets, your inheritance, pension, business …

Can you ring fence your assets? It depends. See my blogs Ring Fence and Protect Assets on Divorce and How to Protect Inheritance on DivorceDo you have to throw your business into the melting pot? See my blog, How to Protect Business on Divorce.

Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Considering Divorce? Six Things You Need to Know A rayas by Juanedc on Wikimedia.

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Ten Top Tips for Divorce: What Should You Do First?

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

The holidays can sound the death knell for a relationship. But what should you do first? Here are Ten Top Tips for Divorce.

1. Consult

Arrange an initial consultation with an experienced family law solicitor. This can be low cost or even no cost, and can set you off in the right direction.

2. Talk

Try to talk to each other about arrangements for the children and finances. Talking, however painful it might be, could help you reach a less stressful, quicker, less expensive solution.

3. Avoid Court

Try to avoid Court proceedings about the children and finances. See my blog How to avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law and Arbitration.

4. Ground rules

If you’re still under the same roof and able to communicate, try to agree some ground rules:

  • sleeping and eating arrangements
  • payment of bills, the mortgage
  • care of children
  • how soon can one of you move out? This will lessen the strain for each of you and for the children

5. Can’t talk?

Under the same roof but you can’t communicate? Probably a good time to consult a family solicitor.

6. Domestic abuse

Has there been violence or any other form of domestic abuse? Take legal advice ASAP.

7. What comes first, divorce or finances

I’ve written a blog answering this question: What Comes First, Divorce or Settlement.

8. Start divorce proceedings

This makes a mark in the sand for those who are finding it difficult to accept the relationship is over. It can also kick off discussions about finances. But in order to keep matters as amicable as possible try to agree who is going to start the divorce. Even better, agree what the reasons for divorce are. See my blog Grounds for Divorce – 5 things you need to know. 

9. Financial disclosure

Disclose your financial information, there’s really no way around this. See my blog, Financial Disclosure on Divorce – 10 Things you need to know.

10. Alternatives

Can’t agree about the children or the finances? Sometimes Court Proceedings are the only answer. But please make sure you’ve tried one of these alternative approaches first:

Ten Top Tips for Divorce

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial consultation on Ten Top Tips for Divorce. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post Ten Top Tips for Divorce are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

image for Ten Top Tips for Divorce Unhappy Couple by Skedonk on Wikimedia

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How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration

Family Mediation Collaborative Law Arbitration
Family courts are full to bursting. Top family law judge, Sir Andrew McFarlane, says families need to find other ways to settle disputes. But is this realistic? “Yes,” says Joanne Houston of Just Family Law. “Out of court settlements provide solutions specially tailored to your family’s needs. You’ll save time and money, and you’ll be able to move forward amicably with your ex.”

DIY

The simplest approach is to negotiate directly with your ex although of course this isn’t always possible. If you’re able to discuss matters between you please make sure you take advice from an expert family lawyer . You need to know what you’re entitled to and how to protect:

  • yourself
  • your property and money
  • the children.

See my recent blog Financial settlement on divorce – How to get the best one for you

But if DIY is not for you, what are the options? Your solicitor can advise you of the most suitable route for you.

Leave it to the lawyers

Perhaps you’ll decide to negotiate with your ex through your solicitor. Because this in many ways remains the norm in relationship breakdown. Your solicitor will represent you and support you and will help you achieve your goals. You’ll be able to rely on their professional experience to communicate on your behalf with your ex’s solicitors. And you can attend roundtable meetings and your solicitor will represent you.

Mediation

Mediation is a fast, low cost solution where you are both directly in charge of the outcome. What does a mediator do? He or she will help you identify the issues between you and help you reach an agreement. If you can’t sit in the same room as your ex there can be ‘shuttle’ mediation. But please take legal advice alongside the mediation process. This is vital because the mediator can’t advise you of your rights. Which mediator to chose? Your solicitor will be able to recommend the most suitable mediator for your case.

Hybrid mediation

You both attend mediation and you take your solicitors along – helpful if there’s conflict between you, because the presence of solicitors will keep things objective. Your solicitor will even be able to speak on your behalf. Hybrid is also helpful where a legal issue is getting in the way of settling your dispute.

Collaborative law

A specially trained collaborative lawyer can help you reach an agreement tailored to your, and your family’s, individual needs. But how does this work? You and your solicitor, and your ex and their solicitor, all sign a Participation Agreement. This states you commit to reaching an out of court settlement. And if you don’t reach an agreement, your solicitor won’t be able to represent you in court – an incentive to finding a solution! What is the collaborative process? Your solicitor will be at your side to advise, support and speak for you at a series of roundtable meetings. And other experts can help if necessary. These include:

  • independent financial advisor
  • family consultant
  • child specialist
  • accountant

See my recent blog What is Collaborative Family Law

Collaborative law is a constructive process and you and your ex remain in control of it.

Arbitration

Arbitration is a relatively new option in family law but provides several strong advantages. But what’s an arbitrator? An arbitrator is a family lawyer – perhaps even a judge – with special training. You and your ex both agree to be bound by their determination. The arbitrator can look at all the issues – money and property and children. Or they can narrow it down to just one question such as where the children are to live. They’re also trained to listen to children. Arbitration is more flexible than court as you decide the venue and the timing. And it’s less formal – you can even ask for it to be conducted in writing.

Consent order

An arbitration provides you with a binding determination. But if you reach agreement through another avenue you’ll need the protection of a consent order sealed by the court. Your solicitor can help you with this. It’s a paper procedure and unlikely to involve a court hearing. But it’s vital because:

  • your ex will have to keep to what’s been agreed
  • you’ll be protected from future claims if eg you come into money.

See my recent blog How do I get a Consent Order

How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration

Contact Family Lawyer Joanne Houston on 01962 217640 for an initial free of charge consultation on the question How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration. In this 20 minute session she will review your situation and how you can achieve your objectives.

JUST FAMILY LAW are specialist divorce and family lawyers. We offer Pay as you go costs. We offer Collaborative law solutions tailored to your family’s needs.

The topics covered in this blog post How to Avoid Court – Family Mediation, Collaborative Law & Arbitration are complex. They are provided for general guidance only. If any of the circumstances mentioned in this blog apply to you, seek expert legal advice.

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