What is Mediation?
When you and an ex-partner have family issues about which you do not agree, such as parenting decisions, arrangements for your children, financial arrangements between yourself and the ex-partner or divorce itself, mediation is one of three main formal options that can help you resolve them. Those options are Mediation, Solicitor Negotiation and Court. There are several other options, such as collaborative law and arbitration, that can be used, but the vast majority of family issues are dealt with using the “main” three options. The options are not mutually exclusive, so you can choose to use one, two or even all three of them at the same time, although you must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting before you can make a court application, unless you are entitled to one of the limited number of exemptions.
Click here to view an informative, 2 minute video about mediation published by the Ministry of Justice (Below).
Family Mediation is a process in which an impartial, qualified professional tries to assist clients who need to resolve one or more family issues when a relationship has broken down. “Impartial” means that the mediator does not have a vested interest in helping one client “win”. A mediator will not profit from the clients failing to reach an agreement and they are not professionally obligated to try and convince one client to do what the other wants. The mediator’s sole professional goal is to assist both clients in identifying options that they both find acceptable, taking into account what the clients wish to achieve and using the mediator’s professional knowledge and experience. Mediation aims to help you identify the things you COULD do and assess the realistic pros and cons of those options.
The decisions regarding what you choose to do, or not do, remain yours, and the mediator’s task is to help put you in the best possible position to make those decisions in an informed way. Mediation is NOT about trying to get ex partners back together or to about deciding who was right or wrong.
Mediation is a confidential process. This means that nothing that is said in mediation can be used outside of mediation, including in court, without the consent of both parties. This provides clients in mediation with a “safe space” in which they can have open and honest discussions about what they would like and why, without having to worry about anything they say being “used” against them. If mediation is successful, then the proposals that have been arrived at can be used to conclude the negotiations however the clients feel appropriate. This could be by both deciding to simply refer to the mediated agreement as needed, or it could be through turning it into a “Deed of Separation” or “Parenting Plan”, or it could be by applying for a Consent Order. If the mediation process is unsuccessful, then it is as though it never happened and you return to the position you were in prior to mediation taking place. This ensures that the worst case scenario in mediation is that you leave in exactly the same position as when you entered, while the best case scenario is that you resolve all your issues in a mutually acceptable way.