It is advisable to get legal advice from a solicitor when going through mediation.
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Only divorce cases involving child-protection issues or domestic violence go straight to court, with all others obliged to see if their case can be resolved by mediation before going to court. Mediation is a non-adversarial way for divorcing couples (or those dissolving their civil partnerships) to settle matters involving finances, property and children out of court, although it is advisable for you and your spouse to seek independent legal advice at the same time. This is because the mediator remains neutral and cannot give legal advice.
Rather than dictating how you should settle everything, a mediator is more like an impartial facilitator for your discussions, helping you identify and resolve problems while not taking sides. They can, however, give you advice about the law, make sure you are informed of your options and ensure that anything you decide is within the parameters of what's legally allowed.
Mediation can be a lot quicker and less costly than going to court, it also has the benefit of giving you and your spouse control in how your divorce is settled - you are deciding what to do rather than being told what to do. Since you and your spouse are directly involved in the discussions, you both know that the settlement you end up making is one you and your family can live with. If you can be open and honest with each other, this is much more empowering than having a third party make the decisions on your behalf.
Mediation can also help take some of the anger and tension out of divorce proceedings, particularly those misunderstandings caused by miscommunication. Although you and your partner, depending on the reasons for your divorce, may be angry with each other, you need to be able to communicate with each other to come up with a fair settlement - particularly where children are concerned.
It is still advisable though to have legal advice from a solicitor, who will be able to advise you on aspects such as:
While the mediator will be able to give you information on the above points (such as what the court can and can't make certain orders on), they cannot advise you in the way that an expert family law and divorce solicitor can.