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Mediation – What Is It All About? by Tanya Bloomfield, Solicitor

What is Mediation?
Mediation is one of the processes available to try and help people who are in dispute. This could be about separation, divorce, finances and/or children. People can come to mediation whether they have just separated or been apart for a number of years.

In a nutshell, it involves having a third party present to help you have constructive discussions and work towards reaching a joint agreement. Legal Aid is still available for mediation, but even if you do not qualify it is intended to be a quicker, cheaper and more amicable process than, say, court proceedings. The parties are in control of the process and the outcome, as the mediator is impartial, and although is there to help, will not make the decisions for you.

Do I Have To Do It?
The Government wants people to try and sort things out outside of the court area so they have introduced a requirement that, before you can make an application to court about finances or children, you have to attend a MIAM appointment, unless you fall into one of the limited exceptions. This is an information and assessment meeting with a mediator where you learn about the mediation process and an assessment about whether your case is appropriate for mediation is made by you and the mediator. You attend this meeting on your own and it is not mediation in itself, as only if both parties attend a MIAM, wish to proceed and it is assessed as suitable will mediation then be organised.

Should I do it?
Ultimately it is your decision whether to enter into mediation as the process is voluntary. You are only required to attend a MIAM. However it is hoped that if both parties want to sort things out then mediation can provide a great opportunity to do so in a more amicable and cost effective way. You can talk about a lot of things at mediation that go beyond what a court would go into. It is hoped that at the end of the process you can move forward with your lives and avoid a very messy and acrimonious break up, particularly if you have children together.

More information about mediation can be found at our website www.familymediationsolutions.co.uk and the Family Mediation Council website www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk.

Should you wish to consider mediation please contact our mediation line on 01325 289856.

Our Miss Bloomfield is a Solicitor in Family Law, an accredited Family Mediator and trained collaborative practitioner.