It is most often to your benefit to opt for Family Mediation.
Family Mediation will not always work in every case and indeed in some instances (for example, in cases whereby it is alleged domestic violence or abuse has occurred) mediation is somewhat unsuitable and cannot be attempted. In many cases, however, mediation does have many benefits to consider:
- It gives you more say about what happens.
- It’s less stressful and incurs less conflict between you and the person that you are in dispute with and certainly when compared to attending court
- The agreements you make can be changed if your circumstances change at any time.
- It can be less upsetting or damaging for any children involved and helps them to continue important family relationships.
- It can be quicker and cheaper than long, drawn out court battles.
Can you get legal aid for Family Mediation?
Subject to your financial position and in particular your income and capital assets held, you may be able to get mediation and legal support for mediation for free if you qualify for legal aid.
What happens at Family Mediation?
The first meeting with a mediator is often called a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
The first meeting with a mediator gives you the chance to find out how mediation works.
Mediators are trained to work out with you whether mediation is right for you, your circumstances and case.
They will also discuss how many sessions you may need, how much they would cost, and explain whether you might get legal aid funding to pay for mediation.
The mediator can also give you information about other services that provide help and support and the other options you might have to resolve any issue that arises.
Do I have to go to a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)?
In short, yes.
If you ever want to take your case to court, whatever that case may be, it is now – in most cases – a legal requirement to attend an MIAM appointment with a mediator and for the issues to be at the very least considered. This is a pre-requisite now in most family cases and a pre-requisite in most civil cases. Failure to even consider mediation in such instances can lead to cost consequences later. If the judge takes the view that the issues could possibly have been resolved via the use of Family Mediation, then the judge can penalise the party who did not attend by awarded legal costs to the other side.
Ultimately, the other person involved will be asked to go to and is expected to attend an MIAM appointment with a mediator, but they don’t have to go to the same meeting as you.
There are exemptions that mean you might not have to go to an MIAM.
It can also be agreed at the MIAM that mediation isn’t right for you. There are a range of options available for resolving family disputes, so, even if mediation isn’t right for you, going to court isn’t the only other option.
Who goes to the meeting?
These meetings can be held separately at first so that you do not have to be in the same room as the person that you are in dispute with, however you can go to the meeting together if you prefer.
You can choose.
Time will always be spent with each person alone to make sure that they have made their own decision to come to mediation and are not at risk of any harm or abuse.
How much does Family Mediation cost?
The first meeting and mediation sessions which follow may cost you nothing if you get legal aid. The mediator will help you work out if you can claim legal aid.
Some mediators provide the first meeting free of charge for everyone and others have a fixed fee.
What happens after the first meeting?
If everyone agrees to try mediation then an appointment is made for your first mediation session.
If you decide not to continue into mediation or feel that it’s not suitable in your circumstances, then the mediator will sign a form to show you have considered mediation. This means you can take your case to court if that’s what you decide to do next.
What can Prism Family Law do to help?
At Prism Family Law, we can help you consider all the options available to you in order to try and resolve any dispute or case amicably and without going to court.
As part of that decision making process, we will always encourage both parties to consider the appropriateness or otherwise of Family Mediation. In cases whereby we identify that mediation is not suitable, we will consider other alternatives. Ultimately, we will not be afraid to advise you on applying to the Family Court if that is what is required.
At Prism Family Law we work in conjunction with a number of Family Mediation specialists located nationwide and we can assist you by making referrals to specialists on your behalf.
If mediation works, then long lasting agreements and arrangements often follow for the benefit of all concerned, speedily and at relatively modest cost.
If mediation does not work or in your view is unlikely to work, then ultimately Prism Family Law can help you to apply to the court for relief without further delay or indeed cost.
At Prism Family Law we offer all potential clients the opportunity to discuss mediation and all other forms of alternative dispute resolution to try and amicably resolve issues. If you would like to take advantage of our free 30 minute consultation then please do not hesitate to telephone 0191 269 6871 or alternatively email [email protected] in order to make an appointment at your convenience.