Mediation is a structured negotiation process, where an independent person assists those involved to identify and assess options and negotiate an agreement to resolve their dispute.
Family law mediation is non-confrontational and is aimed at reducing hostility and conflict between the parties involved. It, therefore, keeps families focused on the issues that matter most, and avoids putting children in the middle of the argument.
When utilised as part of divorce proceedings with a family law solicitor, mediation has proven to lead to longer lasting and better outcomes to protect the interests of children. Keeping the conflict away from the court environment, also allows all parties to be heard, understood, and to participate fully in the process.
The Mediation Process
The mediation process is designed to foster open communication and make all participants feel at ease. The mediator will bring the parties together in a joint meeting, to establish ground rules. The mediator will then afford each party an opportunity to present their opening statements and to outline the key issues that have brought them into conflict.
After this joint meeting, the mediator will then conduct a series of private meetings with each of the parties. The purpose of the private sessions is to allow both parties to air their grievances separately and encourage the parties to exchange offers in order to resolve the dispute.
Following these private meetings, the parties will rejoin to discuss various options. If the parties are then able to reach a settlement, the mediator will draw up a settlement agreement. This a legally binding contract which details the terms upon which the parties agree to settle the dispute.
Benefits to Children
The courtroom and adversarial approach to resolving disputes has long been considered as inappropriate for familial relationships. Particularly in the case of divorce proceedings, many parents wish to structure their own solutions to benefit the individual needs of their children. Mediation has, therefore, quickly become a popular dispute resolution avenue for families.
While the court process is suited to assessing and assigning blame, the mediation process encourages problem-solving. This method is particularly important when families are seeking to devise co-parenting arrangements for the benefit of all children involved.
While the court process is necessary for many disputes, it often places lawyers and judges in control of the outcomes. This can be stressful for the parties involved and can lead to further conflict within the family.
In a successful mediation process, all decisions are made and agreed to by both parties. This removes the guesswork and the fear of the unknown from the process. Mediation places the parties face to face in direct communication with a facilitator, in order to encourage constructive conversation. In family disputes, preservation of relationships can be a key benefit of mediation. Mediation helps participants focus on effectively communicating with one another as opposed to attacking one another.
Courtroom cases can take several months, or even years to settle. Meditations, on the other hand, occur on the participants’ timeline and can, therefore, be settled far quicker. Timely dispute resolution processes are key for family disputes.
The breakdown of a family relationship is devastating for all parties involved, and can often place a considerable strain on finances. Traditional court processes are very expensive, and the total costs involved are often highly unpredictable. Mediation costs tend to be shared equally between the parties in accordance with a mediation agreement, regardless of the outcome obtained. This means that no party is suddenly left to pay the entire bill.
For families who wish to resolve disputes without costly court proceedings, mediation can prove to be a highly successful alternative. The responsibilities of parents to their children will continue long into the future. Mediation is therefore an important process to resolve disputes and protect ongoing family relationships.