The Courts and the Government are trying to encourage couples to Mediate upon separation and prior to divorce. In some cases this will help resolve issues early, highlight any areas of disagreement, focus on solutions and reduce the overall cost of a divorce
There are no statistics to confirm how successful Mediation is. When a couple obtain a Mediated Agreement they then take it to a Solicitor who converts it into a Consent Order which is filed with the Court.
However the Courts do not keep statistics as to how many Consent Orders are agreed via Mediation. Unfortunately, Mediators often say that once they have completed a Mediated Agreement that is the last contact they have with their clients. They have no feedback as to whether the agreement was ratified into a Consent Order.
Mediators have records of how many of their own Mediations are successful and how many breakdown. The statistics alone do not reveal how successful Mediation is given the lack of follow-through from the Courts.
One thing is certain, Mediation is being more and more actively encouraged. There are many more qualified Mediators. Indeed, most Family Law Solicitors are encouraged to become Mediators as well.
The key points of Mediation are as follows:-
- It is voluntary. Couples choose to Mediate and can choose to cease Mediating at any stage of the process.
- The Mediator is an impartial third party who is there to assist the couples to negotiate their own agreement. The Mediator cannot give legal advice.
- The Mediated Agreement is not legally binding. In order to make it into a legally binding agreement, it is necessary to have it converted into a Consent Order and filed with the Court.
- The purpose of Mediation is to obtain an agreement at lower cost, with the least stress, anxiety and acrimony. It is particularly suitable for dealing with Children Act Applications.
It is important to remember that a Mediator cannot give legal advice and, therefore, parties are advised to have their own Solicitor representing them throughout the process. Solicitors should cease attempting to negotiate whilst Mediation is ongoing, but should meet with their client at each stage to advise them as to their legal rights and obligations.
Remember too that you can instruct a Mediator direct – you do not need a referral via a solicitor.