What happens after mediation?
What happens after mediation depends on a number of factors. These include, whether or not you reached an agreement, whether or not you are divorcing or separating, and what you want to do next.
If you have come to mediation as part of your divorce or separation, and you reach an agreement, your mediator can prepare a Memorandum of Understanding, and if the mediation sessions included financial matters, an Open Financial Statement. These documents can be sent to your solicitor to draw up a Consent Order to put before the Judge in the Family Court. Once these documents have been made into a Consent Order, they are legally binding and can only be changed by a further court order. If you are not married, these can be turned into a Deed of Separation, formally setting out your agreement with each other.
If you are divorcing or separating and mediation doesn’t result in you reaching agreement, you may continue with your lawyer to help you negotiate a settlement and ultimately ask a judge to make a decision if necessary.
If you have come to mediation to help resolve child contact issues or other family disputes and you don’t need a court order or one isn’t appropriate in your circumstances, the mediator can draw up a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the nature of your problems and how you’ve agreed to resolve them. In this circumstance, the Memorandum is not legally binding and its up to the two of you to make it work. This will take the cooperation, patience, understanding and flexibility it took to make the agreement in the first place. The positive side of this is that you are both free to agree any changes you like.
If you came to mediation regarding child contact and residence issues, you could if you wished ask a court to make formal orders. However, the spirit of the Family Court is not to make orders unless it is better to do so than make no order, so the court would prefer you to make this work on your own. The disadvantage of applying to the court is that once the court has the matter before it, it can make any order it wishes, which might not be the one you agreed. There may also be additional court fees to pay.
Mediation is an opportunity to move forward the lives of you and your family. Mediation really can be the start of a new chapter in your life. Some people come to mediation and sort out their arrangements both financially and in relation to child contact and are able to remain civil with one another. Some people are not so fortunate. It depends on you and your former partner, and how willing you are to make mediation work. It may be less expensive that going to court, and its still takes commitment. The benefits to you and your family are huge. Some people come away from the mediation process with a sadness that their relationship did not work, but also with a greater understanding and respect for themselves, their family and their former partner. Now wouldn’t that be fantastic?