In the aftermath of a divorce or separation, it can be near-on-impossible to agree on the best outcomes, especially if the relationship ended sourly.
With so much at stake and pesky emotions like anger, hostility and despair getting in the way, it could be worthwhile exploring mediation as an option to help resolve your issues.
What is mediation?
Most people think that getting a lawyer and going to court is the only option following a family breakdown, but there is another way. Enter: mediation!
Mediation is about reaching a fair and unbiased agreement on what is best for all parties. It’s there to help when you can’t agree on things like custody for your children, living arrangements, financial obligations, child maintenance and property and money.
With so much to sort out when a relationship breaks down (and pretty important things too!), as well as emotions running high, it’s no wonder that talking to your ex-partner about such practicalities, let alone agreeing upon them, can be extremely difficult.
Mediators work with couples to privately discuss practical issues in a neutral and non-judgemental setting to pave the way to a smoother separation and more beneficial outcomes for all parties.
Is mediation right for me?
“Mediation is usually quicker, cheaper, less stressful and provides better outcomes than contested court proceedings and may mean people can reduce both the financial and emotional costs of family breakdown.”
According to these governmental figures, the average cost of resolving disputes related to separation through mediation is £1,000 versus £4,000 when going through the courts. And the average time taken to resolve cases through mediation is 110 days compared to 435 days when done without mediation support.
Because mediators are unbiased, they’re simply seeking to find the best resolutions for all involved in a calm, honest and open environment. It’s therefore understandable there’s much less stress and danger to the mental health of those involved, than going to court.
What happens in mediation?
Divorce or separation mediation in the UK takes place at a neutral venue where you and your ex-partner will each have a chance to put forward your views, overseen and chaired by a fully trained mediator.
It’s really helpful if you’ve been able to have a think in advance of the session about what outcomes you’d like. It means that during mediation you can keep focused on the issues that matter most to you.
If you’re discussing money or property following a break-up, you should have gathered bills and bank statements to show your incomings and outgoings. You may also have to fill out a financial disclosure form.
Sometimes people feel daunted at the prospect of seeing their ex-partner again. This is completely understandable. Of course, if you’re able to communicate with them during the session (particularly if children are involved), it tends to be healthier, but there are other options if sitting face-to-face from your ex is too much to bear. Just speak to the mediator in advance of the session and they should be able to recommend the best course of action.
The sessions usually last an hour and a half depending on the complexity of your issues and at the end, the mediator will write down what’s been agreed. It’s important to note that, whilst this in itself isn’t legally binding, you can ask a solicitor to draw up whatever you’ve agreed to make it legally enforcing.
When mediation isn’t right
Inevitably, there are times when mediation (link to mediation page on website when it’s live) isn’t the right course of action. For example, if there have been instances of domestic violence between you and your ex-partner or if the issues are regarding a child who is under social services supervision because of concerns over their safety.
Equally if you don’t know where your ex is or how to contact them, then mediation won’t be possible.
Do I qualify for mediation funding?
No two people’s circumstances are the same. That’s why grants towards mediation services are always considered on an individual basis.
We’re here to help everyone as much as we can and so no matter your legal or financial situation, it’s worth getting in touch with us to see what support there is available to you. Even if it’s just a friendly person on the other end of the line to give you more information about mediation and next steps.
How can I apply?
We’re here to help you through your break-up, whether that’s through mediation grants, legal advice after a separation, or funding towards some of the other costs involved. If you’re worrying about how to cope after a break up, or how to afford mediation, the best thing to do is to get in touch with us. We’ll have someone there ready to help.