Whether you’re in the middle of a family separation or simply need help getting along with your partner, mediation can be an effective way to settle disputes. It can be more affordable and less distressing than taking your ex-partner to court. The key to a successful mediation is working in good faith. That means coming prepared to talk openly with the other party in your dispute, and resolving differences as much as possible. The first step to finding a family mediator near you is completing an MIAM (mediation information and assessment meeting). This will allow the mediator to assess whether your case is suitable for mediation, and give advice on any other options available to you.
In many cases, the issues to be resolved are clear-cut and do not require legal knowledge. However, some issues are more complex and may benefit from an expert opinion. For example, a solicitor can advise you on how to calculate child support or alimony. They can also help you come up with a parenting plan that’s best for your children.
Mediation can be conducted face-to-face or through video conference calls. “We find that it’s most productive if families can meet face-to-face, but we’ve also done mediations where parents live in different states,” says Thorpe. “The technology is getting better, and we’re seeing that it works well.”
While the goal of mediation is to settle disputes, it’s not always successful. Some people are so convinced that they will get a better deal in court, and that the judge will see things their way, that they’re unwilling to compromise. However, the experience of a few hearings can teach people that there is no guarantee that they will get a fair deal in court and encourage them to compromise.
Custody and access
The biggest issue that many couples face is how to care for their children after their split. Mediating a custody and access agreement allows the parents to discuss living arrangements, travel schedules, holidays, education, religious upbringing, medical decisions and communication with each other. A mediation session can be very emotional, but the aim is to reach an arrangement that’s best for everyone involved.
Most states require mediation in custody disputes. Some even waive the requirement if there’s a history of physical or emotional abuse. However, you should consult a solicitor before you attempt mediation if you are concerned for your safety. They can advise you about alternatives such as online mediation or mediation with separate sessions for each of you.
The government set up a voucher scheme to support people with their family law costs. The voucher scheme covers up to PS500 towards the cost of family mediation, and you can apply for it at your MIAM or at a family law clinic. You’ll need to have a mediator authorised by the Family Mediation Council to be eligible for the scheme. If you’re not eligible, the mediator can still provide you with a reduced fee or offer a sliding scale of fees. family mediation near me