Mediation gives separating couples an opportunity to decide for themselves what to do about their children and finances, with help and guidance from trained and impartial mediators. This is an alternative to the more traditional legal approach using lawyers and maybe eventually asking a judge to make the key decisions which will shape the family’s future. In family mediation, clients are encouraged to co-operate with one another to negotiate and find their own ways to move forward with their lives. Research shows that family mediation can cost a quarter of the price and take a quarter of the time of going to court and, more importantly, it can ensure better results for families too.
Currently, many people repeatedly go to court to argue over matters they are better placed to sort out themselves – like securing 30 minutes extra contact time or varying their allocated contact days.
This is expensive and emotionally draining, impacting on everyone in the family. Parents are best placed to resolve these types of issues but often find it difficult to sit down together and have conversations with each other about the children without being side tracked into revisiting the reasons for the adults’ relationship breakdown. Mediation can help them do this.
Many couples want to sort out what to do about their finances themselves but would like professional help in doing so. Mediation can also help them do this.
National Audit Office figures on legally-aided mediation show that the average time for a mediated case to be completed is 110 days, compared to 435 days for court cases on similar issues. Mediation is also often cheaper than going to court – data from Legal Aid cases shows the average cost per client of mediation is £535 compared to £2,823 for cases going to court.
According to the Ministry of Justice, in 2013 “nearly two-thirds of couples who attended a single mediation session for a child dispute reached a full agreement. Almost seven out of every ten couples who opted for mediation reached an agreement.” (Ministry of Justice Press Release published 20 August 2014)