A mediator is a neutral person who will help you and your ex-partner sort out the practical issues that need to be agreed on when a relationship breaks down. These can include things like property, finances and if children are involved, contact and living arrangements. Mediation is often much cheaper than a legal battle and is quicker than going to court.
You will usually have a series of meetings with the mediator (up to five one or two hour sessions are typical) and work through your issues together. During mediation you will have the opportunity to explain your view of the situation and discuss all the options available to you. It is a very collaborative process and the mediator will be there to offer guidance and support and suggest solutions, but the decisions about how to move forward are yours to make.
Mediators can be found across the UK and many specialise in different areas of law, for example family, workplace and civil disputes. If you are thinking about mediation then it is worth talking to your solicitor first – they will be able to tell you whether or not they think this is appropriate for your case.
If you decide to go to mediation then the mediator will talk to both of you about the process, either individually or with your solicitor present. They will then arrange a meeting for you and your former partner to meet with them face to face, or sometimes in separate rooms, depending on the circumstances. It is important to have your lawyer with you for the mediation to help you with the legal formalities if needed. The mediator can also help you with this if you require them to.
During mediation discussions take place in a safe environment and the mediator will not take sides. You will be able to speak freely, raise points of dispute and discuss all the issues you have with your former partner. Normally a series of meetings will take place where you will discuss communication, work through parenting issues, exchange financial information and look at all the options for the future. It is common for a resolution to be reached and in the majority of cases it is agreed before the day of the final mediation session.
It is generally accepted that mediation is best used at an early stage in a dispute to try and avoid the costs associated with going to trial. Courts have powers to encourage mediation and can stay proceedings for parties to mediate, or impose cost sanctions on parties that unreasonably fail to participate in mediation.
In a legal case it is not possible to use any information that is revealed in the mediation as evidence at a court hearing. However, in other types of civil and workplace disputes it is possible to agree that any information discussed in the mediation can be shared. The CMC runs a system of voluntary regulation for civil/commercial and workplace mediators and providers which means they have to abide by a code of conduct, hold suitable insurance and provide continuing training and development and a complaints procedure. mediation uk