The Role of Mediation in Divorce: Benefits and How It Can Help
Divorce is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can go through. The financial and emotional stress, coupled with the legal complexities of dealing with issues surrounding the division of your assets or arrangements for your children, can be overwhelming. However, considering mediation could offer a more co-operative and cost-effective alternative to traditional proceedings, with a neutral party guiding the discussion. This blog post provides insight into the role and benefits of mediation in all proceedings relating to your separation and divorce.
What is the Definition of Mediation?
Mediation is a non-adversarial process which aims to resolve issues and conflicts that arise between divorcing and separating couples. In this process, a neutral third party, known as a mediator, acts as a facilitator to facilitate negotiation and communication between the two parties. The mediator does not provide any legal advice but helps to create a safe space for the couple to explore their concerns, discuss their interests and be guided to work together to reach an agreement that works best for both parties and their children.
What are the Benefits of Mediation?
No matter how amicable a separation may seem, the issues that arise can be daunting for both parties involved. Unresolved issues like asset division, spousal support and arrangements for your children make the process all the more complicated. Fortunately, mediation can help resolve all of these disputes without involving the court system. The National Family Mediation organisation summarises the benefits of mediation as follows:
- Mediation is Cost-Effective: Divorce can be financially draining. With court proceedings, the legal fees and other expenses such as experts fees and court fees can mean the costs of a traditional divorce can spiral out of control. Mediation, however, is a cost-effective way to resolve disputes, as the process to reach an agreed proposal between you is quicker as you will have a limited number of sessions, and as it is also likely that you will share the costs of the mediator. It is therefore much less expensive than the court system. This means that couples who choose mediation can save a significant amount of money and put it towards their future.
- Mediation is Confidential: One of the main advantages of mediation is that the discussions about your options and the proposals you want to explore in mediation are private and confidential. This means that parties can discuss their issues and concerns and explore possible proposals for settlements together without worrying that they will be held to any of those proposals until their agreement has been made binding. If no agreement is reached, the discussions in mediation cannot get disclosed if the matter has to go to court. It is the case however that once financial information and documents have been disclosed, i.e shared in mediation, they are no longer confidential. Therefore, all financial documents, once disclosed in mediation, can subsequently be referred to in the process of any proceedings that may occur if the mediation breaks down.
- Mediation is Voluntary: Both parties must agree to participate in the mediation process and either party can end the process at any time. This means that couples can control their involvement in the process and work together towards a solution without a judge dictating their future. This allows parties to come up with creative solutions that fit their unique situation.
- Mediation Promotes Cooperation: Mediation encourages cooperation. Couples who mediate their divorce often work together to solve problems and find creative solutions that are in everyone's best interest. This collaborative process can be especially beneficial for couples with children, as it creates a healthy co-parenting relationship. If ex-spouses can cooperate with each other, it can provide stability for their children. It is also important as it can establish building blocks to help with future communications which will reduce the likelihood of future conflicts.
- Mediation is Emotionally Supportive: Going through a divorce can be an emotional rollercoaster. Parties in a traditional divorce often feel like they are under attack. Mediation is a more supportive process that helps parties navigate the emotional aspects of divorce. Mediators can help parties identify common ground, express their feelings and work through emotions constructively.
What is the Mediation Process?
The mediation process typically involves several stages. The first stage is orientation, during which the mediator explains the process to the parties, highlights the roles of everyone involved and considers the issues that the parties want to resolve.
The second stage is either information exchange, where the couple share the facts and documents related to their finances including their assets, debts and their current and anticipated monthly budgets; or have discussions about the arrangements for the children depending on which is the most pressing issue. All of these issues can be discussed in mediation.
During the next stage, the couple will explore proposals and negotiate an agreement, guided by the mediator. The final stage is the preparation by the mediator of a summary of the agreed proposals which then goes to the parties’ solicitors to draft the agreement, putting it into the form of a court Order.
This is then sent to court to be sealed by a Judge to make it finally binding. Discover more information about the divorce mediation process by visiting Gov.UK website.
Role of the Mediator
The mediator is an impartial third-party who does not take sides or make decisions for the couple. Instead, the mediator is there to facilitate discussion by providing an environment to encourage open and honest communication between the couple while guiding the negotiation process. The mediator's role is to ensure that each party has a chance to express themselves and highlight their interests and concerns and for the other party to hear those interests and concerns, while keeping the discussion focused on finding a mutually satisfying resolution.
Effective communication is key to the success of mediation. Mediation allows for a structured and safe environment where each party can communicate their needs and concerns. It also promotes active listening and enables both parties to have a better understanding of each other's perspective. During the mediation process, it is more productive if the parties are able to stay calm, respectful and open-minded. Some effective communication tips include staying focused on the present, using "I" statements instead of "you" statements and acknowledging the other party's feelings.
Mediation can help reduce conflict and promote a more collaborative approach to resolving disputes during the divorce process. Unlike traditional financial and children proceedings, where the judge decides, mediation allows both parties to reach a mutually agreeable solution in the best interests of their own circumstances. Mediation can also help reduce the tension and stress associated with divorce. It enables both parties to feel heard and have control over the outcome of their dispute.
It's essential to understand that mediators are neutral third parties and cannot provide legal advice. However, they can help parties communicate effectively and reach a mutually agreed resolution. During the mediation process, you are encouraged to obtain independent legal advice from your own solicitor who can provide you with legal advice and guidance on your legal rights. The role of your lawyer in mediation is to provide legal advice and help you navigate the issues and the court system if necessary.
The Team at Parfitt Cresswell Can Help
When considering the use of mediation in divorce proceedings, it is important to weigh up your options and consider the benefits. Utilising an impartial mediator can aid in preserving a productive and positive working relationship with your ex-partner for any future aspects of parenting, financial decisions, or visitation schedules. With plenty of positive outcomes to mediation, it reaps many rewards such as reducing legal costs, creating less stress during the process and allowing parties to maintain control over decisions that involve their lives.
If you are interested in pursuing mediation as a way to navigate the issues that need resolution on separation from your partner or spouse, at Parfitt Cresswell we can offer you mediation with an accredited mediator who will help guide you through this difficult transition. The first session is offered on a fixed fee basis amounting to £80 plus VAT and will provide you with all of the information that you need to decide if this is a process you would like to try and if so to take you to the next stage. Please do call us on 0330 912 1009 if you would like to know more.
Get in touch and organise a free initial consultation with one of our legal expertsBook now