What is Family Mediation week?

What is Family Mediation week? ‘Really?’ you my cry!

It’s December, and you may be knee deep in preparations for the big day, but if you are already thinking that Christmas may herald the start of divorce, rather than a host of Angels, this post is for you!

If you know that you’ll need to go to court to discuss issues about your children, or a financial settlement, you’ll need to go and see a mediator. The 22nd – 26th January 2018 is Family Mediation Week! Family Mediation Week is all about focusing on how things can be better in our lives, rather than wallowing in what hasn’t gone right. It’s about making good decisions for you and your children  

What is Family Mediation Week?

During Family Mediation Week family law professionals come together to raise awareness about how family mediation supports families experiencing separation, divorce or issues with child arrangements. It’s been happening for a several of years now because many lawyers and family professionals know that enabling families to create their own solutions to their own specific challenges is the most cost effective way to move forwards – both emotionally and financially. It’s about raising awareness to the alternatives to a litigated case.

So it’s just for a week then?

In the famous words of Vicky Pollard, “yeah but no!” Family mediation isn’t being promoted just for a week. Many family law professionals continually work towards promoting mediation as a way of resolving family conflict. But this particular week is where they focus much of their efforts with press releases, blog posts, open events and sometimes discounted sessions – so look out for them in your locality! 

Why should I consider Family Mediation?

There are many reasons why you should consider Family Mediation. Firstly, family mediation is family centred. It’s not couples therapy and you won’t be asked to revisit the past and apportion blame. Nor will anyone attempt to persuade you to stay married or together if you’re not married.

Mediation is very future focused. It’s taking where you are right now, looking at the needs of each of you and your children. It’s about looking at your assets and liabilities if you need to resolve money matters on divorce.

Mediation is generally quicker and less expensive than using a solicitor exclusively. Depending on why you come to mediation, you may avoid court proceedings altogether (divorce does require court proceedings but you may not need to attend). By choosing mediation, you stay in control of all the decisions that you need to make. 

Is Family Mediation for everyone?

Mediation isn’t for everyone. You always have the choice as to whether you wish to mediate, but you can’t if the other person doesn’t want to. You both need to be willing and committed to the process to make it work.

Mediation may not be suitable for you if your issues are particularly complex, you are experiencing abuse whether emotionally, financially or physically. If you choose the collaborative process, you won’t need to mediate either because you’ll do something very similar there.

Unless you are using collaborative law, you will need to go and see a mediator for a MIAM or Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting where the mediator will discuss your options and assess your suitability. If you do not wish to mediate, or it’s not suitable, you will be given the appropriate paperwork to allow you to apply to court.

Do I have to Mediate?

As I mentioned above, no you don’t have to mediate, but it may be advantageous to you if you are eligible for public funding to help with the costs. You will get guidance and support (not legal advice) you’d otherwise have to pay for. 

What happens in Family Mediation?

In family mediation, both of you get the opportunity to say what you feel the issues are. A list is drawn up of topics which can be added to over time if necessary. With the support of the mediator, you’ll be encouraged to share your thoughts and feelings about the topics raised, in a manageable way.

Your mediator is trained to ensure that each of you will both have chance to talk and they keep an eye on any ‘power imbalances’ such as one person dominating the discussion and encourage the other person to share their views. Boundaries are set regarding behaviour and emotional and physical abuse are not tolerated.

If you have financial matters to discuss, you will be supported to undertake financial disclosure and the law will be explained to you although you won’t be given specific legal advice. Once each of you has disclosed your assets and liabilities and they have been valued, you will then be supported to start negotiations, guided by your mediator within the legal framework the court would use.

 

How do I find a Family Mediator?

If you’d like to find a mediator, the easiest place to find one is Google. Specifically, you can follow this link to the national register of Family Mediators. If you live in North Yorkshire, why not visit Crombie Wilkinson Your Family First. We are able to offer Legal Aid* and can see you at offices in York, Harrogate, Selby and Malton. We have experienced lawyer mediators and family lawyers who can help you work out the best way to resolve your family dispute.

 

In the meantime….

As it’s December, and you might not be ready for family mediation, relax knowing that there is a way forward for you that you can access when you’re ready. Take good care of yourself emotionally over the festive season so that you are ready to take the steps you need in January – we will be here for you. If you are already a separated parent, this post may be useful 5 Steps to surviving your first Christmas as a separated parent

Crombie Wilkinson  can be contacted on 01904 624185. With offices in York Selby and Malton, we can help you with a wide range of family law matters.

*Subject to individual circumstances