Mediation is a process through which an independent third party who is neutral and normally a fully qualified solicitor helps the parties to obtain a negotiated settlement by agreement.
It is possible to be a Mediator as well as a Solicitor although the 2 roles are very different.
The Mediator’s role is to assist the parties in obtaining their own agreement. The Mediator cannot give legal advice and does not represent either party.
The Mediator can outline the options available to the parties. However, it is for the parties to choose how they wish to proceed.
The process normally takes at least four sessions. Initially there is an intake session where the Mediator meets the parties individually to assess suitability for mediation. The first meeting will outline what the Mediator aims to achieve and answer any initial queries. At the second session, both parties will be expected to supplied and exchanged full financial disclosure. This means a full list of their assets and liabilities, including Pensions, Credit Card debts, individual items worth more than £500 and 12 months’ copy Bank Statements.
All income details are also required, including three months’ payslips and the latest P60 and Tax Returns. If there is Company involved, then two years’ accounts will also be required.
If there are large Pension assets or trusts, sometimes an independent expert’s Report will be required prior to proceeding with mediation.
Once the parties have full financial disclosure, the Mediator can then produce an Asset Schedule and the purpose of the following session is to assist the parties in negotiating an agreement which they can both live with.
Mediation does not necessarily obtain the best scenario for either party, but it obtains a compromise which both parties are prepared to stick to.
Once a Mediated Agreement (Memorandum of Understanding) is drawn up it then needs to be given to the parties’ Solicitors to be drafted into a Consent Order. Once Decree Nisi has been obtained, the Consent Order can be filed with the Court and becomes legally binding upon Decree Absolute.