WHY FAMILY MEDIATION?
Family processes recognise that the parties in dispute are nearly always the best people to decide how to resolve the dispute and to move forwards. Mediation allows a less formal process in which parties are supported by an independant, trained professional in reaching decisions based on personal and often private details and of course ensure that the matter remains confidential. Importantly, mediation also provides a safe and less daunting environment in which children involved in the dispute may be heard (if helpful, if they are old enough and wish to be involved).
In order to start family mediation, one simply needs to attend a MIAM. A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is a short meeting that explains what mediation is and how it can help, and gives you a chance to assess whether mediation is suitable for you. It usually lasts around 45 minutes to an hour.
If the mediator thinks mediation is suitable for you and you want to give mediation a go, Latitude will make contact on your behalf with the other participant to invite them to attend a MIAM. Once the MIAMs are complete, the case will hopefully be able to proceed to mediation. Parties then simply need to arrange to attend the joint sessions (usually 4-6) (booked directly online through a private booking system provided by the mediator after your MIAM).
In the event that the mediator does not feel that case is suitable for mediation/ or parties do not wish to proceed after the MIAM, the relevant form (C100 and FM1) will be signed, giving participants 4 months in which to progress formal proceedings.
At the current time, most mediations will be conducted using an online platform and video conferencing, now referred to as Online Dispute Resolution or ODR (although in-person, or indeed ‘blended’ mediations are also available if desirable). Participants are able to mediate virtually from home and we will assist fully in instigating and running the process, including a practise call prior to the mediation if helpful.
The Mediation Agreement
The participants control all elements of the eventual settlement agreement; a signed, binding document capturing how the matter(s) in dispute is to be resolved by reference to various assurances, promises, actions, undertakings, and so on. Parties can then move forward in the knowledge that formal contentious legal proceedings have been avoided, and hopefully agreement reached in respect of how parties will commuicate with eachother going forwards.
Once the mediation process comes to an end, your mediator will issue you with A Statement of Outcome, containing a summary of your final agreements; or an MOU (a memorandum of derstanding between two parties), which sets out your final agreements.
In order to make the resolution ‘legally binding’ (if required), parties may wish to apply to court to ask the judge to turn the document into a Consent Order. In the event that no agreement is reached, parties will receive a note from the mediator explaining that no agreement has been possible. This note will then evidence the parties attempt at mediation and parties will then (probably) consider instigating more formal proceedings.
What happens if parties do not reach agreement?
If a full settlement does not transpire from the participants’ efforts to mediate, the mediation should still be expected to help narrow, dilute or dispense with some aspects of the matter(s) in dispute. In this way mediation will mitigate/ reduce the ongoing cost of any formal proceedings, which will recommence in the event that settlement efforts are not successful.
If full agreement is not reached the mediator will sign the relevant court certificate in order to provide evidence of the mediation. Parties may then wish to seek formal legal advice and/ or commence court proceedings directly.
Parties may also simply wish to postpone the mediation in order to allow positions to settle a little.
Many people choose not to turn their agreements about child issues into a consent order because they feel that the agreements can be managed between themselves and they can trust one another to adhere to them.
However, most financial agreements between divorcing couples will need to be turned into a consent order in order to be effective and final. For instance, if there is an agreement to share pensions, both parties must have a consent order or the pension company will be unable to divide and share the pension. It is important to remember that life events may mean that your agreements have to be reviewed at times. You can always return to mediation again in the future in order to renegotiate your arrangements.
If you reach an agreement in mediation about child arrangements, it is not usually necessary to apply for a Consent Order through the court, as the court strongly discourages unnecessary applications about matters that parents should be expected to sort out between them.
CHILDREN IN MEDIATION
it is always important to understand the view of any children, but it is not always easy for parties to understand what that view may be. Older children may wish to be involved in the process; and what that ‘involvement’ looks like will vary in each case. This can often involve parents/ carers speaking with the child, but sometimes, parties may prefer for the mediator to support them with these difficult conversations. A seperate mediator can also be used during the process if helpful and we can discuss that with you during the MIAM.
MEET THE TEAM
Latitude operate on a fixed fee agreement. We know how important it is for you to stay in control of the process. Our MIAMs are fixed at £100 (for a 45 min to 60 min meeting).
Mediation sessions are £120ppph (as usual any court forms, if necessary, will be charged at cost).
Child inclusive mediation will usually be a fixed fee of £250 to £400 depending on the number of children involved and number of sessions required (albeit that one short meeting will usually suffice).
We are happy to suppor Legal Aid cases through an associated organisation. Information on eligibility for financial support for your mediation can be found on the government website here.