Going to court can be a daunting experience, particularly when there are children involved. However, depending on your circumstances it does not have to be the only way of finalising a dispute.
Mediation is a form of dispute resolution aimed at finding an agreement between parties involved in a dispute. Mediation is conducted by an accredited mediator who will meet with the parties and attempt to facilitate an agreement between them or, if this is not initially possible, clarify areas of disagreement. Mediation is without prejudice, which means that neither party is bound by things which are said during the process.
Whilst mediation is often used to settle disputes around financial matters, it can be used to discuss virtually any family issue (such as disagreements regarding children). Mediation can often offer more flexible alternatives as agreements can be made that a judge may not have the power to actually order had the matter proceeded to court. If the parties are able to agree a resolution at mediation it will almost always be substantially cheaper and more time effective than referring the matter to court.
Often the court will expect the parties to consider some form of non-court resolution before taking the matter to court. In many cases it is necessary to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (called a ‘MIAM’) before proceeding to court. This is a preliminary meeting to give you the chance to find out how mediation works and determine whether mediation would be right for you and your family.
Our Family Department fully supports non-court resolution to family law matters and will regularly assess whether your case is suitable for mediation or another form of dispute resolution such as arbitration.