Family Law Mediation has been a popular topic for the UK Government and in January 2011 the Ministry of Justice published an article promoting the use of Family Mediation highlighting its numerous advantages.
However like everything in life, there are always disadvantages to take into account and each person has to weigh the pros and cons of Family Mediation when looking at their own specific circumstances.
Yes as a Solicitor I will always look to recommend options such as Family Mediation to clients in order to save their costs, avoid the stress of potentially giving evidence in Court and more importantly so one professional can make both parties see all of the sides to the situation, especially in matters involving children of the family, however it is not quite the miracle cure that the Ministry of Justice makes it out to be.
People may find that initially that Family Mediation appears to be the course of action that is most appropriate for them. However like one of my recent clients experienced, he had paid to attend Family Mediation for several months in order to resolve the finances on his divorce, however his wife was not as pro-active and would not complete the disclosure process.
He therefore felt that the whole experience was a complete waste of time and money as the procedure had to be repeated with myself and between Divorce Solicitors. Therefore there is no guarantee from the outset that any party will continue to engage in the process if once they started, they intended to co-operate, however halfway through changed their mind due to other issues cropping up.
Family Mediation most importantly does not provide a person with anything that is legally binding and can be used against the other party if any agreements have been reached and then subsequently broken.
This is particularly useful to note in Children Law cases where most parents want their contact set in stone and to know that there is recourse should the other parent stop contact unnecessarily.
In cases where parents are fed up of contact stopping or arrangements changing last minute and so want the assurance, then I will always advise that issuing proceedings and getting a Contact Order is their best option.
Court proceedings do not always equate to long drawn out hearings, extortionate costs and unprecedented stress levels. In fact I have done a number of Contact Applications whereby I have assisted with the parties reaching an agreement prior to the first hearing and so the case has concluded at the first hearing with a legally binding Contact Order.
If either party then unnecessarily breaches any of the terms of the Contact Order then the other party can enforce the Contact Order and penalties are imposed. The fact that Contact Orders now clearly display these penalties means that parties often avoid deliberately disobeying the Contact Order.
In relation to the finances, when a divorce settlement is reached within the course of Family Mediation, then a Memorandum of Understanding is usually drawn up by the Mediator, however this is not legally binding. Both parties should then consult a Family & Divorce Solicitor so that it can be drawn up in a Financial Consent Order, which is legally binding, as it has to be approved by a Judge in Court during the divorce proceedings.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free initial consultation on Family Mediation for Divorce and can offer the services of a Qualified Family Law Mediator.
Call freephone 0800 916 9055 24/7 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.
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