Mediation and the Family Law Courts

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Article

07 January, 2020

Relationships break down, and when they do parties may be looking at how they can navigate the separation amicably. One option is mediation.

Medication has a long history in society. The assistance of an independent third party is the principle of mediation. The Government has increased its focus on mediation to resolve private family law disputes in recent years.

In 2013, the Government removed Legal Aid from most private family law cases, although it remained available for mediation. Then in April 2014, the Government placed a requirement on applicants in relevant family proceedings to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before applying to Court, unless an exemption applied.

A MIAM is a meeting with a mediator to determine whether a case is suitable for mediation. If it is, then a programme for mediation sessions is implemented. If not, then the MIAM form is signed off so that an application to Court can be made. The key to mediation being productive is for there to be a willingness by both parties to resolve the dispute. As a practitioner it is not uncommon to represent a party in Court over an issue (e.g. about the amount of time a child spends with each parent) that could have been resolved in mediation.

It is important to have taken legal advice before embarking on mediation. A solicitor can also provide legal advice alongside mediation to one of the parties. If mediation is successful then a solicitor can draft up the agreement reached. For example if a settlement is agreed regarding financial matters in a divorce, then a solicitor can draft up a Consent Order which can be finalised by the Court. If an agreement cannot be reached, then further legal advice can be provided and, if appropriate, an application to Court can be made. Mediation can be a cost effective method of resolving disputes if both parties are committed to reaching an agreement as amicably as possible.

For more information contact Sarah Robson in our Family/Divorce department via email or phone on 01257 260600. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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