Mediation is a voluntary process where you meet with your partner and a trained neutral mediator to try and work with them to reach an agreement about all the problems that need to be sorted out. The mediator does not tell you what to do but will work with you both to try and get you to reach an agreement. It will not work unless you are both prepared to have an open mind about matters.
Mediation can be highly effective if there are disputes over children or complicated financial situations to work out. It can prevent a lot of letters going back and forth and meetings. It also helps preserve the communication between you, which can be an important factor especially if you have children and decisions to make together in the future.
The following are some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes mediation.
You agree to appoint a mediator who has never dealt with either you or your partner before. The mediator will then have a meeting with you and your partner individually first to explain the process and to get some basic background information. The mediator will also clarify if you have any concerns about intimidation or such like. There will then be some joint meetings.
The mediator uses their skills to give you both the chance to discuss what are the problems that need to be sorted out and what are your suggestions about how these may be resolved. The idea is that you and your partner then agree what to do.
It is essential that you are able to sit down together to discuss matters. You may have been able to do this in happier times but find it harder to do now. The mediator helps you to do this again but in a more structured way.
You have control over what is agreed. You have a better understanding of where your partner is coming from if you hear it from their mouth direct. If you are not speaking to each other you start thinking that your partner wants something when in fact they do not. This can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. Misunderstandings usually arise not because of things that are said but things that are not said. The other party’s imagination then takes over often in the wrong direction.
Mediation hopefully will restart the communication between you which can be very important if there are children. There are bound to be lots of decisions that will have to be made in the future as children grow up and hopefully you will have a better understanding of how you might be able to resolve issues in the future.
No, mediation is a voluntary process. If one of you does not want to go, then the other cannot force them to go to mediation. The courts will often strongly suggest that you give it a try as they think that it is a better way of resolving disputes than asking a Judge to make a decision.
The difficulty about going to court is that the Judge decides everything for you, including costs. Court can bring out the worst of people with allegations and negative things often said. It is also expensive, can take a long time and there are limited appeal opportunities if you do not like the decision made. The main difference, however, is that a Judge, who will only have met you briefly, will decide you and/or your children’s future. Through mediation you can retain a degree of control over the outcome.
This will depend on how many things have to be resolved and how quickly you and your partner can agree or compromise. There will usually be an individual intake session first which will last about an hour. After that, the sessions with the mediator and both of you will usually last no more than an hour and a half. Three or four sessions might be regarded as the norm to resolve most issues but some cases might take less time and others more.
We have a trained mediator in Thorntons who can help you and your partner with mediation. They are a member of CALM, which is an organisation which comprises solely of Law Society Accredited Solicitors who have been specially trained in mediation. However, in the role of mediator they are not acting as Solicitors and cannot give legal advice.
You cannot appoint a mediator who you have already had advice from, as the mediator has to be neutral.
Mediation can also be provided through Relationships Scotland, whose mediators are not Solicitors. Relationships Scotland and CALM are the two principal recognised groups of mediators in Family Law in Scotland.
At Thorntons Family Law, we offer an initial free no-obligation chat over the phone to outline your options and the possible costs.
Depending on your case and circumstances, the next step is to come into one of our local offices to meet a Family Law Solicitor about your case and the way forward.
Call us on 03330 430 150 for a chat or contact us to book an appointment.
The cost of mediation will depend on the number of sessions and time that it takes to reach a resolution. One of the benefits of mediation is that you share the cost of one mediator rather than both having to pay your own Solicitor.
You may still need a Solicitor to prepare an agreement, as that is not something that the mediator does, but that cost would be small if you have done the hard bit of agreeing matters at mediation.
We are always clear to clients about the potential costs of any option and offer a range of payment options. We will set out our fees and likely extra costs for you at the start and keep you informed of any possible changes as your case progresses.
Please note we do not offer Legal Aid for this service.
Frequently asked questions
We often receive questions about agreeing family issues through methods such as Mediation. We have answered some commonly asked questions below
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