The mediation process
At some point before during or after separating from your partner you will decide that the time is right to sort out future care arrangements for the children and/or resolve financial issues. If you think that mediation may be the best route to achieve this the following meetings will take place.
At this initial Mediation Information And Assessment meeting (MIAM) I will discuss with you in confidence what you want to sort out with your former partner. We will then look at all the options available and whether you feel that mediation is the most appropriate way forward for you. I will explain how my fixed fees work and what the total cost is likely to be for you. If you are keen to use mediation to resolve issues then I will invite your former partner to a similar meeting. If mediation is not for you I will provide you with the mediator certificate to enable you to make an application to the court.
First Mediation meeting
If you both decide to come to mediation then a 1st meeting will be arranged at a mutually convenient time and location. Between us we will set an agenda of what you wish to discuss in mediation. If there are urgent matters to address then those can be looked at first. If the issues relate to care of the children we will talk about current and future arrangements and work out a way forward that is best for you but particularly best for the children. The decisions you make can be incorporated into a mediation summary if required. If a financial settlement is being sought you will have been asked to bring all information and documentation about your respective financial positions so that I can draw up a full financial statement. You may wish to consult your solicitor after this meeting to review the financial statement and be given initial legal advice about any additional information required and any initial proposals you should put forward at the next meeting.
Second Mediation meeting
At this meeting if appropriate we will review how arrangements for the children are working out and work together to resolve any difficulties. If future arrangements are resolved these can be incorporated into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) if you wish so you each have a written record. In relation to financial matters, the financial statement drawn up at the 1st meeting will be reviewed and any gaps in the information filled in. This will then form the basis for discussion about how your assets and liabilities are to be divided so that your needs and those of your children can best be met. Advice from your solicitor at this point can be invaluable in relation either to any proposals that have been put to you or for you to be guided as to what proposals or counter proposals you should raise at the next meeting.
Third Mediation meeting
Discussion and negotiation in relation to financial matters are the basis of this meeting in order to narrow the options, reality check them and focus on reaching solutions satisfactory to both of you. Your preferred solutions will be incorporated into a MOU document and this forms the basis of the consent order that your solicitor will draw up and send to the court for a final order to be made.
In these cases it may be necessary to have additional meetings and bring in experts to provide detailed information and analysis in areas such as pensions, businesses or investments.
Sometimes it is appropriate to refer children to a mediator trained in consulting with children so that they have a voice and any views expressed to the mediator that they wish to be shared can be fed back to the parents at a subsequent mediation session.
Clients may find it helpful to seek counselling alongside mediation and details of appropriate professionals can be provided.