Mediation & Collaborative Law

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution.

In April 2014 the law changed to make it a requirement that, before making an application to the Family Court, the Petitioner/Applicant must find out about mediation by attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), unless they qualify for an exemption (i.e. there is evidence of domestic violence, or an application must be brought before the Court urgently). 

The mediation process involves an unbiased, neutral, third party who works with the parties to try and resolve issues and negotiate a settlement. Mediators are professionally trained to help you work out the arrangements for children and finances following separation.  Although Mediators cannot give you legal advice, they can facilitate discussions, and help you to reach an agreement. It is possible for mediation to be flexible and tailored to your needs, and meetings can be arranged to take place via Zoom or in separate rooms if that would be preferable. 

Mediation helps you to retain control of any decisions made and find solutions which really work for both of you.  No-one during the process will impose any agreement upon you, against your wishes.  The process is very cost-effective, less stressful and is a quicker alternative than to going to Court.  You can also try mediation at any stage, even if you are already involved in Court proceedings. 

Mediation is also useful if the arrangements you have reached before need to be changed, in light of new circumstances, or where, for example, your children’s needs change as they grow up.

Charles Le May and Tia Harrison are both experienced Mediators who can help you to discuss your issues and reach a potential agreement. 

Please contact us if you would like to find out more about our fees and the mediation process. 

What is Collaborative Law?

This is a way of finding a solution to family issues without the need for Court proceedings.

It is a process in which you and your partner or former partner each have a lawyer, and all have a shared commitment to avoid litigation.

The process involves informal discussions and joint meetings for the purposes of settling all issues.

Everyone involved in the process signs an agreement at the outset not to go to court and our mutual aim will be to reach a fair and equitable settlement.

What type of issues can the Collaborative Law process be used for?

  • Divorce – sorting out the divorce, finances and arrangements for children
  • Sorting out financial arrangement after separation from your partner
  • Sorting out the arrangements for children after separation
  • Helping to sort out co-parenting plans for same-sex parents

What are the benefits of collaborative law?

  • You can focus on what is important to you and resolve matters quickly.
  • If there are children, they can benefit as the process will focus on the children first.
  • You can achieve a more flexible and creative solution adapted to your needs.
  • The process is straightforward and eliminates the opportunity for misunderstanding.
  • The goal is to enhance communication through the process and to lay the foundations for a healthy relationship afterwards.
  • Where there are children, it can provide a very powerful message as the children will see their parents resolving differences constructively together.

What distinguishes the collaborative process from the traditional court route?

  • It will ensure that you and your partner / former partner have a voice and are in control of the process, whereas if the Court becomes involved the case will be dictated by a Judge.
  • By avoiding Court no evidence needs to be given.
  • You will benefit from the strength of two lawyers working together rather than in opposition to one another.
  • The process is confidential, whereas the Court process has been recently opened up to allow a media presence.
  • The process is very much a future-focused one, and the aim is that you work with and not against your partner. In contrast, the Court process can become a battleground.
  • Compared with the traditional Court process it can provide better value for money, particularly if long term solutions are achieved.

No collaborative lawyer can guarantee that this process will be effective in resolving your issues. However, there is every chance the process will work if there is a commitment to be respectful and honest, with a drive and determination to resolve the issues that are important to you.

Can other experts be involved in the process?

Yes. The Collaborative process takes an interdisciplinary approach, as separation and/or sorting out family issues is not just a legal process.

Some people benefit from having a Family Consultant involved in the process. A Family Consultant can assist in improving communication skills or thinking about the psychological and social pressures associated with separation.

For parents it can be useful to have a child specialist involved to talk to about issues directly related to the children. A child specialist can assist parents understand the impact of their actions and separation on the children, identify and explain developmental needs or be an advocate for the children. If a child is exhibiting worrying behaviour a child specialist can help parents deal with this.

A Financial Adviser (called a Financial Neutral in the context of the Collaborative process) can be involved. They can analyse the overall financial position and help everyone work towards a realistic and viable solution where there are financial issues that need to be addressed.

Zoë Summers and Karen Jeary are both experienced in Collaborative Law who can help you to discuss your issues and reach a potential agreement. 

Please contact us if you would like to find out more about our fees and the collaborative process.