What do Family Mediation Services usually involve?

Although, in an ideal world, you and your ex would be able to sort out all of the details of your co-parenting amicably, this can often be a rather idealistic expectation for a separation. You and your ex are bound to disagree on some matters, but taking these disagreements to the courts is a whole other matter.

However, you don’t need to feel bound by the costs, difficulties and emotional exhaustion of taking these matters to court – there is another option. In this blog post, we will be covering the way in which family mediation services work, the disagreements that they can help to resolve and the various benefits of reaching a mutual decision in this way.

What is family mediation?

Family mediation services offer legal assistance, providing a neutral middle ground that can help you and your ex to come to a mutually acceptable agreement. This can be regarding a wide range of issues that you may be facing.

Mediation is a process which is designed to enable a separating couple come to agreements concerning the key decisions surrounding their child’s arrangements for the future. Through the assisting expertise of a neutral third party, who will act as an unbiased guider of the conversation, the couple can discuss and negotiate these matters.

Once you and your ex have reached a mutual agreement, the mediator will create a ‘memorandum of understanding’ detailing the agreement and its terms.

Registered mediators are trained professionals and, while the mediator’s job is not to explicitly state what should be done, they will assist co-parents in reaching a decision that they are both suitably happy with. The process is designed to enable this decision to be reached independently, in a way that successfully builds the communication between co-parents, too.

The service promotes cooperation between disagreeing parties, and it is an especially helpful option when tensions and emotions are running high. A mediator will guide the discussion, enabling both parties to get a fair say and articulate their thoughts and feelings about the matter in full. The mediator is not there to give you legal advice, these sessions are instead about both partners reaching an agreement together. The mediator will be governing this discussion, ensuring it is productive, and providing you with practical assistance to help this decision-making process.

Family mediation is a service that is available to any couple who are separating and have a child who’s welfare they want to best determine. This includes divorces, the ending of civil partnerships, and can also provide a communication aid for grandparents, step-parents and other family members, should it be required.

What issues can family mediation services help with?

The child-related issues that can be discussed through a family mediation service commonly include topics like:

  • Working to agree on parenting arrangements
  • Planning to see your children, and where the children will spend their time
  • Child maintenance payments, and other finances

These are common topics, but the agenda for your discussion could cover anything that you would like to broach and reach an agreement upon. It is all about helping you to reach long-term solutions that you are both happy with, without having to resort to court involvement. The discussions, and the arrangements being decided upon, are designed to be flexible and suit your co-parenting needs.

Why are family mediation services a good option?

There are a huge number of reasons why family mediation services are, if they are a possibility, a fantastic option for you and your ex to consider.

There’s no shame in struggling to come to a decision together, but the situation is, hopefully, unlikely to be so tense that court involvement is required. So, if you require some assistance with forming these agreements, undergoing family mediation is a highly beneficial step to take, that provides a significant number of benefits over the court.

These plus points include factors like:

  • Less stressful than the courts
  • Far less expensive than going to court
  • A quicker option, that provides you with a solution sooner
  • It reduces conflict between you and your co-parent
  • Ensures that you retain full control over any arrangements regarding your children, as well as your property and relevant finances
  • Enables you and your ex to improve your communication, in a way that can continue to benefit you into future decisions to be made
  • The agreements that you come to through mediation are far easier to be reviewed and altered, if it would suit you both to do so

In addition, mediation is actually a free option for individuals who qualify to receive legal aid. But, if you don’t qualify for legal aid, there are plenty of ways that you can limit the cost of mediation. For example, this could be achieved by coming to as many agreements as possible with your ex before the start of a session, or agreeing on a fixed number of mediation sessions first, in order to make sure that you make the most out of the time that you have.

What if we still can’t reach an agreement?

If you go through the mediation process, and you’re still finding it difficult to come to an agreement that you are both happy with, then there are further steps that you can take to resolve this issue.

Further possible options, following on from mediation services, can include:

  • Speaking to a solicitor and asking for advice on the next best step to take
  • Attending a collaborative law session
  • Taking the matter to family arbitration
  • Proceeding to take this matter to the courts

By attempting to come to a decision through mediation, you are approaching the situation in a way that is the most likely to navigate any tensions or high emotions that you and your partner may have, while still balancing this with an attempt to come to a flexible, mutual agreement. In turn, the decisions that you reach during mediation are ones which are highly likely to be respected by both of you, and your wider families, too – so have a high chance of successful implementation.

By acknowledging and appropriately approaching the disagreements that you may be having during your separation, you are attempting to do the best by your child, as you solve these issues in a manner that is calm and collected, while also promoting better communication between you both into the future.

Article Created By Josephine Walbank

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