Resolving disputes and coming to an agreement can be difficult, even more so when the partners are separating or divorcing. This inability to effectively deal with conflicts often results in couples going to court to resolve their issues. However, deciding to take things to the court can be financially draining and time-consuming, not to mention the emotional toll this process often takes.
Fortunately, there is an alternative to this process – family mediation. If you have recently separated from your partner or are currently having trouble reaching an agreement with your ex, here’s everything you need to know about mediation and what this process involves.
What is family mediation?
Once a couple decides to split, questions arise about what will happen after the separation or divorce is finalized. Deciding what’s best can be complicated, especially if there are children involved. There may be disagreements about everything from kids and the house to assets and debts. This is when family mediation comes into play.
A family mediator helps partners reach agreements when they can’t do this on their own. There are different ways they can do this. One of the options involves couples working with a mediator directly to help finalize arrangements in a neutral environment. Depending on the circumstances and family dynamics, it is possible for family mediation to take place over a conference call. There are also instances which require the family mediator to move between the partners while they’re in separate rooms to discuss arrangements with each party individually (shuttle mediation).
How can family mediation help a family?
During the process of separation or divorce, the mediator acts as a neutral third party. Their job is to help couples realize what their particular issues are and seek common ground. A mediator is not there to offer legal advice or suggest which agreements you should make. They are there to help you overcome hurdles by putting your feelings aside and letting you express what you feel is important to you.
Simply put, family mediation helps families by guiding them to a decision they can agree on without them taking sides in the process. They’ll let both parties negotiate about what they think is best for their family after their divorce, and then offer all the available options while providing general information. Finally, a mediator will prioritize children’s needs and help parents reach an agreement that works for the whole family.
What does this process involve?
First, the couple schedules an initial appointment referred to as MIAM (Mediation Information&Assesment Meeting). Partners meet separately with the mediator to see whether mediation is suitable for their particular case. In cases where mediation is not possible or one of the parties doesn’t want to cooperate and attend these meetings, the party who attended will be given paperwork to be able to issue court proceedings.
Depending on the application parents make, this can be either a C100 form or a Form A that’s been duly signed. The former is an application regarding child arrangements, while the latter refers to financial applications. If both parties attend MIAM and it’s decided that they should proceed with mediation, they’ll attend a joint mediation session two or three times. Once they reach an agreement, the mediator will finalize documentation that records everything discussed during the sessions.
How is this process different from other available options?
Unlike having a court hearing, family mediation is an informal process. The parents are seen as the best people to decide about what happens with their children, house, and the assets after they’re no longer together. In other words, the mediator leaves all the decision-making to you.
Rather than undergoing a prolonged court experience, family mediation gives you a chance to resolve your issues in just a couple of sessions. And instead of battling your partner and confronting them as it’s often the case during court hearings – which can only further damage and even destroy family relationships – mediation is there to help preserve them and settle any disputes efficiently. Mediation is a much more affordable option, and it’s also a more flexible one, offering both parties a chance to have more say as well as more control over what happens and what the end results are.
Coming to an agreement jointly and finding a way to resolve any disputes regarding children or finances can be difficult. Still, family mediation is a much better alternative to court and presents a safe place to resolve disputes. It is also a powerful tool in helping partners work together to ensure the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
If you think that family mediation would fit in with your particular situation, it might be best to give it a try. After all, there’s nothing to lose really but only to gain by starting the mediation process.