Recently the English Government have offered separating couples a free £500 Mediation Voucher to help them sort out their matrimonial affairs.
The reason for this is that Covid has caused a long backlog of court cases and the authorities are keen to keep as many cases as possible out of court.
Would Mediation Help Your Case?
Apart from the question of the divorce itself the problems, people encounter when they separate relate to the welfare of their children and how to manage the finances.
In straightforward cases and cases where people reach an agreement quickly, it is possible to sort things out without attending a Mediator. Your Family
A lawyer will draw up a written agreement (known as a Separation Agreement) which will set out the precise terms of the settlement. Once that has been signed a divorce can be obtained quickly.
In some cases, however, it does not prove easy to reach agreement and the parties remain in conflict.
The situation has to be resolved and some lawyers will say that the only option is to go to court and let a judge come to a decision as to what should happen.
The decision might be about really important issues such as where the children are going to stay or whether the family home has to be sold.
So crucial decisions are made by a third party, namely, the Sheriff (Judge) and the parties are legally bound to comply with the decision. Matters are taken out of the parties’ hands.
A well known downside of taking a case to court is the cost of fees. An average case can cost thousands on either side.
An alternative to court action is for the parties to consult a mediator.
A mediator is a neutral third party who helps the parties come to their own agreement about outstanding issues.
The mediator is not a judge. He or she meets with the parties and gives them the opportunity of each explaining their situations.
The process is particularly useful if the problem involves arrangements for the children. It gives each parent the chance to explain what they feel is best for the child.
The Mediator, who is often an experienced family lawyer, can discuss with parents what has happened in other cases and generally help them work together to decide what would be best for their child.
If an agreement is reached the mediator will summarise the agreement and send the Summary to the parties’ lawyers who will draw up the binding Separation Agreement.
If Mediation works it is always less expensive and usually less stressful than going to court. In some cases, the conflict between the parties may be too high or a compromise cannot be agreed upon.
A downside to mediation is if the process does not work the parties will have no option other than to go to court so time and money will have been wasted.
Whether mediation will work and is a good idea depends on the circumstances of your case.
The best advice is to discuss the idea with your Family Lawyer who is in a good position to judge if it will help your case.