Family Mediation Week: What is family mediation?
This year, Family Mediation Week takes place between 17-21 January 2022. It exists to raise awareness of the benefits of family mediation and how the process can help separating families resolve their issues productively and collaboratively. The campaign is organised by the Family Mediation Council and is supported by Resolution.
At mediation, the separating parties attend a series of face-to-face or video meetings with an independent and professionally trained mediator who facilitates discussion. The mediator can help the parties discuss and work through various issues that may have arisen from their separation, such as child arrangements or financial matters. Even sometime after the separation, mediation can be used to discuss changing and evolving care arrangements as the children grow up, for example.
The mediation process starts with both parties separately attending a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM). In the MIAM, the mediator explains the process and what is involved to enable parties to make an informed decision about whether or not mediation is suitable for them. The mediator also assesses the parties to ensure that mediation is the appropriate course of action for them based on their attitudes and abilities. As of April 2014 and subject to relevant exemptions, it is compulsory to attend a MIAM before a party can make a relevant family court application.
The Family Mediation Council estimate that a mediator costs an average of £140 per person per hour, but this will vary according to location, expertise and the types of issues being discussed. At the MIAM, the mediator will be able to help the parties understand whether they would be eligible for help with the mediation costs through legal aid or the family mediation voucher scheme.
Family disputes can often be complex and uncomfortable, but mediation can be an effective way to resolve such disputes in a non-confrontational and constructive way. The facilitation process fosters communication between the parties going forward and is often a quicker and more cost-effective method of resolution than court.
The family team at Shoosmiths aim to follow the Resolution Code of Practice that promotes a constructive approach to family issues and consideration of the needs of the whole family. We are able to refer clients onto appropriately qualified mediators, as well as support our clients through the mediation process by providing legal advice outside of the mediation sessions.
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