No. 15 - Mediation
Mediation is an alternative to litigation and can be cheaper, quicker and less stressful. It is a voluntary process where an impartial and independent third party helps the parties negotiate a resolution to divorce disputes. If the parties do not want to negotiate in person, a mediator may act as go-between. Everything that occurs during mediation remains confidential and cannot be used in a later court hearing.
The parties, not the mediator nor a judge, decide the outcome. Parties discuss their issues and concerns in a safe, neutral environment and have the opportunity to improve their communication and chances of long-term co-operation, often necessary where there are children.
The mediator controls the process but the parties retain control of the decisions made. Mediation can be used at any time - whether parties are still living together, living separately or are divorced. It is not directly an aid to reconciliation, however, and mediators do not provide counselling.
Mediation is especially helpful in cases involving children where ongoing conflict between the parents is more likely than not to impact negatively on their development, particularly during court proceedings.
Family Mediation Helpline
In 2006, HM's Courts Service launched the Family Mediation Helpline. Trained operators provide information to callers about family mediation, whether it is suitable for particular cases and whether parties may be eligible for public funding. Families can call the helpline on 0845 602 6627 or visit the new Family Mediation Helpline website.
** Additional Information & Advice **
Depending on your circumstances, however, you may want to speak with a solicitor who specialises in family law. You can be matched with a family law solicitor in your area for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.