True or false – which of these comments about mediation are true and which are false?
Mediation is about Reconciliation
FALSE – mediation is a process designed to help couples reach an agreement about the arrangements for their separation without the need to go through contested court proceedings. It is a form of dispute resolution.
Mediation is a form of counselling
FALSE – while some mediators may come from a counselling or therapeutic background they are not providing a counselling service within the mediation process.
My ex-partner has been abusive and so we cannot go to mediation
FALSE – mediators should hold a separate intake meeting with you prior to commencing mediation to assess whether your matter is suitable for mediation. Domestic abuse does not always prevent mediation but the mediator needs to be aware of that background to ensure the mediation process is safe for you. If mediation is to proceed it may be by way of “shuttle” mediation where you are in a separate room to your ex-partner and the mediator moves between you.
My ex-partner will not provide financial disclosure voluntarily mediation will not work
TRUE – as mediation is a dispute resolution process it requires both of you to fully disclose your financial position. You may both agree to reduce the amount of financial disclosure to what the court would require but if you do not agree this then the default position is that you provide the same amount of financial as through court proceedings. If financial information is not provided on a voluntary basis then mediation will not proceed. However, let the mediator contact your ex-partner as you may find an explanation from them as to the financial information required is received better than a request for this information from your solicitor who is acting for you.
My ex-partner is better with financial information than me and so mediation won’t work for me
FALSE – in the individual intake meeting with your mediator you should explain this concern. It is the mediator’s job to ensure that discussions and information is provided in mediation in a way that you both understand. The mediator can help explain the financial information provided. The financial information can be shown to your solicitor who can advise you on it and help you with questions you may need to ask about the information provided.
Mediation is cheaper than going to court
TRUE – most mediations are concluded in 3 – 5 sessions which last 90 minutes each. If you require all five mediation sessions and have a Memorandum of Understanding drawn up recording the agreement you can expect to pay the mediator approximately £2,600 between you – £1,300 each. If you go to court you can expect to pay solicitors approximately £5,000 – £8,000 just to get to the negotiation hearing and double this if you end up with a contested final hearing.
The above should reassure you that mediation is a good option for most couples who are separating. However, if you still have doubt, telephone a mediator, talk to them, meet with them on an intake meeting to find out more. Discuss your concerns directly with the mediator and then make your decision. The cost and time benefit, as well as maintaining a working relationship with your ex-partner which is important if you have children, make mediation a good option.