What is mediation?
Mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution used to settle a dispute away from court. It can be used to settle many different disputes including those concerning arrangement for children following a separation and financial matters. It is entirely voluntary and requires both parties to engage in the process with an open mind. The parties would often provide each other with some preliminary information, in the case of a financial matter, this may be an exchange of financial disclosure, and then the role of the mediator is to facilitate discussions to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable settlement. Mediation can be tailored to fit the situation so if the parties are willing everybody can all sit in the same room to discuss matters or there may be shuttle mediation whereby the couples sit in separate rooms and the mediator moves between them relaying messages and opening up the discussion.
Mediation can be advantageous in many ways as it can be quicker and less expensive than court based resolution and it allows the couple to reach an agreement they both want rather than a decision being imposed on them by a court. However, they do require co-operation and openness from both parties. Couples can attend mediation without solicitors but solicitors can attend if both parties agree. It is also common to have solicitors representing clients in the background so that they understand their legal positon and consequences of the settlement they are negotiating.