LEGAL EASE: What is family mediation and do I need it?
Individuals who cannot reach an agreement with their ex-partner or family member about children, family, property or finances may need to consider court proceedings as a last resort to try to resolve their issues. Before they do so, most will be required by law to attend mediation.
Mediation is a process where two people formerly in a family relationship meet with a trained mediator (usually with legal, social work or counselling backgrounds) to discuss their dispute with a view to reaching an agreement.
Mediators help individuals listen to each other’s points of view and reach a compromised solution together, which can then be discussed with their respective solicitors before incorporating it into a mediation agreement.
The Government encourage mediation as the first step in resolving a dispute and it is therefore compulsory before any family court application is issued (save for cases and people involved in domestic violence, emergency family applications or divorce proceedings).
Mediation must be attended by a person issuing an application for either:
• A Financial Order for divorcing spouses including same-sex marriages, civil partners or a child;
• A Children Act 1989 Order which may, for example, be in relation to with whom a child should live or who has parental responsibility for a child; or
• A Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 Order for property disputes between individuals who live or have lived together and are or were in a relationship with each other (known as cohabitees or former cohabitees).
Mediators usually charge an hourly rate for their services with the initial meeting called a MIAM (Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting), costing between £75 and £125. If one individual is eligible for legal aid (public funding) however, both parties can sometimes receive free or discounted mediation sessions.
Mediation is still proceeding despite COVID-19, with many mediators conducting appointments by video call. Sometimes the mediator decides mediation will not assist in resolving a dispute and court is the only option in which case, a form will be given to the participants to be used in a court application.
We are offering socially distanced appointments at our offices or alternatively we can arrange video appointments, so if you have attended mediation and would like to discuss making a court application, please call Mossop & Bowser’s family law partner, Kimberley Pender on 01406 422651.