Mediation is a flexible process to assist parties in reaching their own agreement about children arrangements and/or financial matters following the breakdown of their relationship. It is also suitable for couples discussing pre-nuptial or pre-civil partnership agreements.
Mediation is a voluntary process. Both parties must be willing to take part.
It is important that each party feels safe and able to express their views in the mediation process.
If the mediation is about finances, it is necessary for the parties to each make a full and frank disclosure of their financial situation.
The mediator is neutral and cannot provide any legal advice to the parties. However, they can provide information. Very often parties have their own solicitor who will advise in the background during the course of the mediation.
Types of mediation
Classic mediation takes place over a number of one to two hour meetings between the parties (usually between 3 and 5). The parties are in the same room as the mediator. However, if the parties would like the mediation to take place over one day, then subject to the mediator agreeing, this is possible.
Shuttle mediation is an option where one of the participants feels unable to be in the same room as the other person. The mediator will move between the two rooms to facilitate this. Sometimes the mediation will start as a shuttle and develop into a classic mediation if the person who was initially anxious begins to feel comfortable being in the same room as the other person.
Mediation with solicitors present: It is possible for the parties’ solicitors to be at some or all of the mediation sessions, although this is less common and typically the parties report back to their solicitors between sessions.
Hybrid mediation (solicitor inclusive mediation): This is mediation that brings to it elements of commercial mediation. It is a hybrid of traditional family mediation (classic mediation) and commercial mediation. It is particularly useful where one party feels vulnerable and would prefer not to be in the same room as the other participant and would like their legal team to be present when they have private meetings with the mediator. The difference between this and shuttle mediation is that the meetings with the mediator, party and their solicitor are confidential. The mediator will always check during a private meeting what information discussed can be shared with the other party. This can free up parties to brainstorm options in private with only agreed points being shared with the other party.
Child inclusive mediation for child arrangements: The voice of the child is important and some mediators are trained to meet with children directly. Whether this seemed suitable in a particular case would be discussed with the participants and would depend upon various factors, including the age of the children.
The mediation process
The first step in the mediation process is for both parties to attend separate pre mediation meetings. During this meeting, the mediator will give them information about mediation, listen to what the person would like to achieve and assess whether the matter is suitable for mediation. If the matter is suitable for mediation, and both parties wish to proceed with mediation, then the first mediation session will be scheduled.
If you would like more information about mediation or think it might be suitable for you, please telephone on 020 7436 6767 or email Margaret Kelly, solicitor, mediator and arbitrator and Deputy District Judge, on firstname.lastname@example.org.