In almost all private law cases concerning children, and cases involving financial remedies, the court expects the participants to have explored what mediation can offer as an alternative to a court-imposed outcome. Long experience tells us that it is never too late to mediate, if the will to do so is there.

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process whereby the parents/spouses/partners meet with a mediator, or mediators, to set their own agenda and to explore solutions to their problems. Generally speaking, lawyers do not attend. Sometimes the participants ask that they should do so. They are very welcome to attend and can offer independent legal advice as the session progresses, rather than having to adjourn matters to a later date. Legal proceedings, if they have been started, will be put “on hold” for the duration.

Mediation provides a confidential forum for an honest and open exchange of views in which, with some guidance from the mediator, participants can begin to formulate joint proposals.

Not every dispute can be resolved in one session and it is not uncommon for parties to return on one, two or more occasions. A session will rarely last longer than 2-3 hours. If joint proposals can be reached, the mediator will prepare a ‘mediation summary’ document and advise the participants on the wisdom of obtaining legal advice on their proposals if lawyers have not already been instructed. If an ‘open agreement’ then emerges, it can easily be transformed into an order of the court if that is what is required.

The mediator can also help the participants produce a comprehensive ‘parenting plan’ for children, covering detailed issues such as future education, extra-curricular activities, attendance at school events and the involvement of wider members of the family in the children’s lives. But mediation is not confined to issues concerning children. The division of assets on separation or divorce can also be resolved, provided that the parties can give to the mediator and to each other a true and full picture of their respective financial positions.

Frequently the participants appreciate guidance in arriving at a fair outcome, such that they can be confident that the court will approve their joint proposals. Whilst our mediators cannot give legal advice, they are very well placed to offer an early neutral evaluation of competing proposals should that assist in the process.

We have 18 fully trained and experienced mediators, including the nationally acclaimed mediator Anthony Kirk QC, a past Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association and a member of both the Bar Council ADR Panel and the Resolution DRS National Committee.


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