When it comes to divorce proceedings, the goal should always be to reach a resolution as soon as possible. However, with so many important elements to decide on, from the division of assets to determining child custody, it is easy to feel like you will never come to an agreement.
In these cases, it is often assumed that you can only reach a conclusion by going to court, but this is not true. Mediation offers an alternative to deciding the terms of your divorce in a courtroom that is usually more cost and time-efficient.
So, mediation is one option, but just how does it fit into the divorce process? In this article, we are going to look at what mediation is, along with its benefits and what you should expect from this alternative dispute resolution.
Whether it is in our personal or professional lives, we all end up involved in a dispute that cannot be solved at one point or another. In many cases, the reason two parties cannot reach a resolution is simply because their lines of communication have broken down and each side refuses to compromise.
Mediation allows individuals to come together and attempt to reach an agreement with the help of a neutral third party — the mediator.
This is particularly useful in divorces, as it provides a fresh perspective to you and your ex. This can help you both reconsider which elements of your divorce you disagree on and how you can reach an acceptable resolution.
While the mediator will not provide advice to either party, they will be specifically trained to deal with divorces. Therefore, they will be able to provide you with information about the law and your options, so you can make an informed decision.
If you are not confident about going into mediation without an advisor, you can have a solicitor present. That way, you can ensure there is a legal expert in the room who is on your side.
If mediation is successful, your mediator will then draw up a Memorandum of Understanding, which documents what you have agreed with your ex. This can then be handed over to a solicitor, who will complete the required paperwork to make your agreement legally binding.
Going to trial is rarely the best option when it comes to resolving a divorce dispute. Not only can it be more costly but the time it takes can often result in greater strain for the entire family. For that reason, courts in the UK are trying to promote the benefits of mediation to as many people as possible.
While mediation is not compulsory, you are usually expected to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) before you can issue court proceedings. That way, you can find out more about the mediation process and whether it is right for you.
In some cases, you may not need to attend a MIAM in order to proceed to court action. This is most common in cases of domestic abuse, but can also apply if proceedings need to be started quickly for another reason. A MIAM may also not be needed if you and your ex have already attempted some kind of alternative dispute resolution that was not successful.
So, the mediation process itself is not compulsory, but attending a MIAM often is. Failure to do so can result in the halting of any ongoing court proceedings. If you are not sure you should attend a MIAM, make sure you seek advice from a solicitor before making a firm decision one way of the other.
If mediation is determined as suitable as part of your MIAM, the next question becomes whether you should embark on the course? With that in mind, below are some of the key benefits of mediation, compared to court proceedings.
What happens after mediation depends greatly on whether it was successful or not. If it was a success, your mediator will produce a Memorandum of Understanding. This will include details of the agreement, including information about any financial settlement and child arrangements.
With this memorandum, your solicitor can then prepare the necessary legal paperwork to make your agreement legally binding in the form of a Consent Order. This is then submitted to the court, where it will hopefully be approved.
If mediation fails you have a couple of options. If you believe a resolution can still be reached you can re-enter mediation or continue to negotiate with your ex. If this is not realistic then your other option is to go to trial and let the court determine the settlement.
If you are considering mediation, it is important to speak to a solicitor early who can advise you on what kind of settlement you are entitled to. That way, you can enter mediation with the best chance of coming out of it with the right resolution for you.
Get in touch with the team at Nayyars Solicitors today for more information about the divorce process and how we can make it as easy as possible for you.