Family Mediation Week is an initiative by the Family Mediation Council to raise awareness of mediation and its benefits for separating couples. The week runs from 16 to 20 January and includes several events open to the public.
Family mediation is a process in which a neutral third-party mediator helps separating couples communicate and resolve financial disputes or arrangements for children in a cooperative and non-adversarial way. The goal is to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. Mediation is intended to be less stressful, quicker and cheaper than going to court.
The courts are actively promoting mediation to resolve family disputes, with the President of the Family Division, Sir Andrew McFarlane, recently saying couples should “try almost anything” (for example, arbitration or mediation) before starting court proceedings.
In fact, anyone (unless they are exempt) who wishes to issue court proceedings in a family dispute must first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with a mediator. The mediator will explore whether mediation is appropriate and if it might help the parties resolve their differences.
It is essential that each party embarking on mediation onboards their own solicitor to provide legal advice before, during and after the mediation process (lawyer-assisted mediation). This will ensure that the parties mediate within the parameters of the law and achieve a fair outcome that is likely to be endorsed by a judge. Any competent and experienced mediator will direct the parties to have their own solicitor during the process. If the parties prefer, they can have solicitors present during the mediation meetings. An advantage of this is that legal experts are on hand to give professional advice as and when needed
Family Mediation Week
During Family Mediation Week, the Family Mediation Council will be presenting webinars, publishing resources, posting blogs and issuing news stories explaining the benefits of mediation. It will also host events for the public, lawyers, professionals and mediators. You can find details of events open to the public here.
Head of Family Teena Dhanota-Jones says:
“Family Mediation Week is an excellent initiative, especially as the courts are currently facing huge backlogs and time delays. In my experience, lawyer-assisted mediations can be particularly effective in helping to resolve disputes, especially in complex cases or those in which there is a high level of conflict between the parties.”
If you require any further information about family mediation, please contact Teena Dhanota-Jones at [email protected].
Disclaimer: The above is merely general guidance and should not be relied on as formal advice. We suggest you take professional legal advice before taking any action in relation to the issues discussed above.