Family mediation can help separating couples to sort out disputes around practical arrangements for example in relation to children and finances.
It often works best if mediation is entered into at an early stage as a way of minimising conflict and avoiding protracted legal proceedings.
A mediator will listen to you and your ex-partner and help you reach agreement or identify other support services that might benefit you.
Some people find it helpful to have legal advice while going through mediation. The solicitors at Beswicks Legal have developed close associations with mediators and can help you work with them to achieve an early and positive outcome where that is possible. Your solicitor can also assist in making any agreements that you reach legally binding, as well as advising you in advance about what to expect, what the law says and the kind of things you need to bear in mind when considering whether mediation is appropriate and during mediation itself.
The law says that couples must consider mediation before taking a case to court and a judge can halt a case if they are not satisfied that mediation has been considered. Your solicitor at Beswicks Legal will try to assist you in ensuring mediation is not just a tick-box exercise, striking the balance between ensuring mediation serves some useful purpose, and the advantages that making an application to Court can sometimes bring. The rules create a requirement for couples to find out about mediation by attending a ‘Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting’. There are exceptions, however, for example, in cases involving domestic violence or child abuse.
Family mediation is growing in importance and has become the government’s ‘go to’ solution in the face of a mounting backlog of cases in the family court system.
The backlog pre-dates the pandemic but has certainly not been helped by it. In addition, the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce has led to an increase in divorce applications increasing the burden further.
Consequently, there has been a concerted move by government and family court judges to divert cases away from the courts and towards more cost-effective alternatives in a bid to make the family courts a last resort rather than a first port of call.
In addition to family mediation, couples may wish to consider:
- Negotiation (either independently or with the assistance of solicitors),
- Arbitration (each party prepares evidence which an arbitrator (effectively a private judge) considers and determines an outcome which is binding, with the assistance of solicitors),
- Early neutral evaluation (a non-binding view from a solicitor about the likely outcome should a case go to court),
- Collaborative law (both parties and lawyers meet to work out a fair outcome for the family),
- Contested financial proceedings through the Courts, which the Courts wish to be seen as the last resort.
The family solicitors at Beswicks Legal can help you assess these options and decide which is most likely to work for you.
If you are facing a separation and are unsure of the best way forward for you and your family, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by phoning our Stoke-on-Trent solicitors on 01782 205000 or our Altrincham solicitors on 0161 929 8446. Alternatively, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We offer two types of initial family appointment: a standard fixed fee consultation charged at £100+vat for one hour, or a detailed Beswicks Overview appointment costing £250+vat. The Overview appointment includes a written summary of the advice given and options available to resolve your family matter.