Demystifying mediation – what is family mediation?

Family mediation has been around for more than 40 years! Despite this, there is still a lot of confusion about what mediation involves. Here are my top five things you need to know about mediation.

  • Mediation is voluntary. No one can be forced to mediate.

  • Information NOT advice. A mediator can’t provide either you or your ex with legal advice and they can’t tell you whether or not the agreement you are working towards is fair or sensible. The mediator can provide you with general legal information to support your decision-making and also signpost you to other professionals that may be able to help.

  • Confidential. Apart from a couple of exceptions, all the discussions in mediation are confidential. This means that neither of you (nor the mediator) can discuss what has been said in mediation with anyone, apart from your legal or financial advisors, for example, unless you have the other’s permission. In fact, when you sign up for mediation, there will be a whole section dedicated to confidentiality in the agreement to mediate! Discussions are also “without prejudice” which means that, if you are unable to reach an agreement and you end up going to court, you can’t refer to the discussions in the court proceedings.

  • Impartial. Your mediator will act impartially at all times and they will be completely neutral as to the agreement that you and your ex reach.

  • Binding. Actually, this should be not binding because the agreement you and your ex reach in mediation is not of itself binding on either of you. However, you can make it binding if you both want it to be. A lawyer will help you turn your agreement into a binding court order. By doing this, it means that if either of you try to go back on the agreement or not do what you said you would, the other can take action to enforce the agreement.

Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with the family mediators here at Mills & Reeve. And look out for further blogs from the team during National Mediation Awareness Week (8-12 October 2018) both here and on explaining what mediation is and the ways in which it could help your family.

Andrew Moore

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Karen McGonagle