Mediation involves a third party mediator facilitating you and your ex-partner to reach your own agreement. We can support you through the mediation process and recommend mediators we can work alongside with you. Mediation can be a valuable process enabling you and your former partner in narrowing and resolving issues in dispute without conflict, or with conflict being managed by a third party. However, it is a voluntary process and is not legally binding. It is essential that you obtain independent legal advice alongside mediation as the mediator must remain impartial and cannot give you advice.
Mediation takes place between you, your partner and a mediator in a supported and structured environment. There will be a process of financial disclosure and settlement options will be fully considered. You and your partner make the decisions impacting on the future of the family rather than these decisions being ordered by a court. You are guided to find these solutions and reach a full without prejudice agreement. However, the mediator cannot provide you with legal advice and so we recommend that you take full legal advice before the mediation process to help you to identify your goals and options and throughout the process to ensure you have support and advice that is in your best interests. This provides you with the certainty that the decisions you are making are appropriate and fair.
Once an agreement has been reached, the mediator draws up a Memorandum of Understanding and we will use that to draft a consent order for you and deal with the paperwork that is lodged at court when the consent order is submitted to the court for approval. There is no binding agreement until the consent order is sealed at court.
We also endorse a new mediation model known as Hybrid Mediation. This is particularly effective if there are issues of law getting in the way of helping you reach an agreement of for example a particularly thorny or sensitive issue preventing a settlement being agreed. It is also a recommended model if there is a significant level of conflict in your relationship with your former partner. This is because the model enables both parties’ solicitors to attend the mediation with you. It makes it quicker to reach an agreement as your solicitor will be with you at the mediation session so you do not need to refer back to your solicitor for advice on issues arising in the mediation session. It also means that you have protection from conflict in the mediation as the solicitors will be there to adopt a more objective approach, reduce the stress of the mediation, act as your voice if required, and assist you both in narrowing issues. The process is also ideal if parts of the financial agreement have been reached, but there remain some sticking points. Solicitor input in the hybrid mediation model can help you reach a full and final settlement quicker.
Mediation can be used to resolve matrimonial financial, cohabitation and children disputes, and some mediators are trained to listen to the children as part of the process. For international children disputes, we can offer remote assistance and support through the hybrid mediation process.
Would you like to consider an early settlement of your case without recourse to a court process, or are you stuck in a court process that is taking too long and/or hearings are being vacated and relisted for 2022?
Whether or not you are engaged in a court process, we can guide you to resolve remaining issues in dispute using a voluntary process known as Early Neutral Evaluation or a Private Financial Dispute Resolution Hearing.
Agreement to the process needs to be provided by both parties and a mutually agreed Judge is appointed. The “Judge “will be an experienced family solicitor, barrister or District Judge with standing. The Judge will indicate, based on the information and disclosure provided, the type of order that is likely to be made if the matter were being heard as a final hearing.
The Hearing or Evaluation is likely to take half a day to a full day and can be successfully conducted remotely with both parties setting out their positions and the Judge listening and determining what appears the fairest solution within the remit of the law.
This is an excellent alternative to a FDR hearing in a court process as post- pandemic, the court backlog and judicial availability is such that hearings are often listed a long time in advance and are subject to being taken out of the list and relisted at the last minute, after preparation work has been incurred.
A Private FDR allows you to choose the timing, forum and Judge to deal with the matter so you have the security of knowing that an experienced family lawyer will be assessing both cases objectively with an eye to working towards a resolution.
An Early Neutral Evaluation is a valuable tool and works along similar lines at the start of the process and would be a good alternative to issuing proceedings, unless of course there are pressing reasons to issue such as the need for a court order or injunction.
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