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. It 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. The lawyers do not attend. 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 ‘Without Prejudice’ 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 hours.
If such 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.
We have 17 fully trained and experienced mediators, including the nationally acclaimed mediator Anthony Kirk QC, a past Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association.
Philip Marshall QC
Richard Anelay QC
Anthony Kirk QC
Her Honour Christian Bevington
Stephen Bellamy QC