The Government has now made it compulsory for anyone wishing to make an application for the court to deal with arrangements for their children or financial issues, to indicate that they have at least considered mediation. This generally means seeing an accredited mediator for a MIAMS appointment, an initial individual meeting to find out more about mediation. Mediation itself is voluntary, you do not have to mediate, merely consider it as an option.
The reason for that is not just that a contested divorce is much more expensive and time-consuming than a mediated settlement. It has also been shown that children cope much better with their parents’ separation if both parents maintain at least civil relations after their divorce and both continue to play a role in their children’s lives. Despite this, many couples contemplating a divorce don’t know how the mediation process works and so are unable to make an informed choice.
Using mediation as a tool to end your marriage ensures that – despite the pain and anger that often accompany a breakup – you both put your family first as you work through your issues.
Mediation depends on you to cooperate while working to dissolve your marriage. Children are the first priority in mediation and you will work together with your mediator to make the separation as easy for them as possible. In many cases you will create a parenting plan, and come to agreements about where the children will live, their schooling and how much time they’ll spend with each of their parents.
In addition, divorce mediation also helps you finalise arrangements concerning your family home, finances such as your mortgage, pension and any debts, insurance issues and taxes.
Your mediator is a trained, impartial specialist, who will listen and inform, but also help you understand your partner’s point of view and guide you through difficult decisions.
You meet your mediator for a number of sessions – how many varies from couple to couple and while we will guide you towards reaching an agreement, we will also ensure that you are comfortable with the pace. We will talk through all aspects of your divorce until you reach and write down an agreement, called Memorandum of Understanding, which forms the basis for your divorce settlement.
Mediation is both quicker and cheaper than a contested divorce, mainly because a lot of the work of dissolving your marriage is done by you. Your mediator will guide you and act as an impartial sounding board for issues, but both you and your partner agree how you will separate and both of you make the decisions regarding your future.
Most of all, your mediator will help you communicate throughout what is a difficult time – making it easier for you to remain on civil terms once your divorce is finalised.
At Lighthouse Mediation we see both parties individually for an initial meeting to give you both the opportunity to separately consider the mediation option and process thoroughly.