Breaking up can be a complex process, particularly when children are involved. Not only do you have to deal with the emotional distress, but there are also numerous legal procedures to follow.
The UK government has introduced a new element to this process: compulsory mediation. The goal? To decrease the number of family cases in court and promote more peaceful and structured separations.
But refusing this path could have consequences, potentially leading to fines for those who decline.
Understanding Mediation and Its Importance
But what exactly is mediation? Mediation is a process where a neutral third party – a mediator – helps couples reach amicable agreements on issues such as child custody, asset division, and other financial matters related to separation. This process promotes open and constructive conversations, providing a supportive environment during a difficult time1.
Angie Brown, the Head of Family Law and Mediation Services at Dootsons Solicitors, underlines the value of mediation. She believes it offers parties the opportunity to stay in control of their circumstances, as opposed to a judge they may never have met imposing a solution that perhaps neither one is happy with1.
According to the Ministry of Justice, approximately 70% of couples who attended a first mediation meeting resolved their differences outside of courts. This is a testament to the efficiency and effectiveness of mediation in resolving disputes and promoting more peaceful separations.
The Consequences of Refusing Mediation
Refusing mediation is about to have significant consequences. Under the new plans, separating couples could face fines if they fail to attend mandatory mediation sessions1. The intention behind this approach is to ensure that more separating couples seek a less adversarial path to resolution and reduce the burden on the court system.
Financial Support for Mediation
The financial aspect of mediation might seem daunting to some, but there’s good news. The UK government is continuing its £500 voucher scheme to offset the costs of mediation. These vouchers can greatly reduce out-of-pocket expenses for those eligible.
Dootsons Solicitors also offer a very affordable Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) at just £50 plus VAT. This introductory session provides a clear overview of what mediation entails and how it can benefit your unique situation3.
Cases When Mediation Might Not Be Appropriate
However, it’s essential to note that mediation isn’t suitable for every situation. Angie Brown reassures that all the appropriate screening processes remain in place for instances where mediation might not be the best route1. These could include cases involving domestic abuse or other specific circumstances where court intervention is necessary.
Seize Control of Your Separation by Embracing Mediation and Avoid Potential Fines
Mediation is an effective tool in the process of separation that empowers couples to take control of their circumstances, often leading to more amicable resolutions. With the new rules in place, refusing to attend these sessions could result in fines, adding another layer of complexity to the separation process.
If you’re navigating separation, we at Dootsons Solicitors are here to guide you. We can help you understand these new rules and explore how mediation could benefit your specific situation. Reach out to us today to learn more and take your first step towards a smoother, less stressful separation process.