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Out of Court Settlements: Mediation

Princess Diana

“Every one of us needs to show how much we care for each other and, in the process, care for ourselves.”

Mediation is a form of dispute resolution outside of court. Family Mediation following the breakup of a marriage, civil partnership or a period of cohabitation can help you to achieve a settlement of many issues that you would otherwise need to litigate.

Unlike any other form of litigation, there are no winners following a family breakdown. What a good family lawyer is doing is seeking to mitigate any damage.

Mediation is effective in assisting you to negotiate an agreement regarding the children and the division of property.

You must remember there is only one ‘pie’ to be divided and it is easy to be left with a few crumbs if you fight over every issue. This situation has been recognised by the courts, in fact the court system is geared to encourage you to go into mediation throughout the process. It is far better to start theprocess with mediation than to be forced into it by the court.

Family mediators have trained to help you and your ex get together to work out amongst other things:

If you are encouraged to see a mediator, it is to help you to reach settlement without the cost both emotional and financial of court proceedings.

Even after you have resolved a particular issue you can always go back to a mediator with other problems, such as the need to increase maintenance or issues over the children. The mediator has no power to force you into an agreement. He or she is also precluded from giving legal advice, albeit they are trained to explain the law to you. Many mediators are Family Law solicitors but once they are appointed as you mediator they act for you both, and they cannot subsequently act for you or your ex as a solicitor.

You can stay in touch with your solicitor during mediation process and ask for advice as matters progress.

If you wish reach agreement through the mediator your solicitor will then help you to turn that agreement into a Consent Order to be ratified by the court. Finally, before contested proceedings are initiated about either the children or for a financial settlement, in most cases you will need to see a mediator at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAMS) appointment. The mediator will complete a certificate to confirm that your case is unsuitable for mediation. To help you better understand, here is an example.

Example Mediation Case

Mr and Mrs X are separating. They own the matrimonial home which they have had valued for £500,000. They have paid off their mortgage. Mr X has a large pension fund and Mrs X has no pension. Her income is half of the amount Mr X earns.

If they go to mediation they will be expected to give full disclosure on a voluntary basis. There will be a series of meetings to discuss a fair settlement, a fee to pay to the mediator, and if they agree, they will have proposals given to their respective solicitors. The solicitors will then turn the proposal into a consent order accompanied by a short financial statement, which will be filed at court, the cost of filing being £50. The solicitors’ costs are likely to be between £1,500 and £4,500 each.

If a settlement is not reached and proceedings are issued, the cost of issuing proceedings alone is £255, there will be two hearings and possibly a trial. The cost for each party can easily exceed £30,000 each if the matter is resolved at trial. Bear in mind that although mediation is not the only way to achieve a settlement, it can be a very cost-effective method if you both trust each other. It is also a process designed to make it easier to move forwards as separated but committed parents.

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To discuss mediation or other forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) then contact our specialist team today.

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