Mediation and Collaboration
Mediation offers a lifeline to many families in the midst of separation and conflict. When relationships break down and you need to sort personal matters such as child custody, property or finances, matters can often turn confrontational very quickly.
Depending on the circumstances, court proceedings may leave you feeling that no one has won out of the situation and emotions can run high. Perhaps arguments have escalated to a point where you feel the relationship is irreparable or you can’t even be in the same room as the other person. It doesn’t need to be this way; mediation can offer a calmer, less stressful route.
Mediation involves using an impartial third-party (our family law mediators) to guide you and your partner’s discussions over several sessions to help reach a mutually agreeable solution. Our mediators remain neutral throughout the conversations and will not take either person’s side or judge them – our aim is to encourage positive communication between both of you and avoid arguments. We create a calm, informal environment where you feel comfortable working towards the best outcome for your family. Mediation can be used at any time (although the sooner, the better) and also in many situations; whether you are married/ not married or have children/ do not have children. Even if you feel that your relationship has gone past the point of repair, mediation can help.
Mediation is for you if you:
- Want to be in control of the outcome and not have decisions imposed on you by the courts.
- Feel you would benefit from a non-judgemental, neutral third party guiding your discussions and offering advice and alternative ideas.
- Are open to communicating and finding new solutions.
- Want what is best for your family as a whole.
- Are willing to work towards an outcome that is mutually-agreeable to those involved.
Many people find mediation to be much more cost-effective than litigation. This is because you and the other party split the total cost between you, rather than both paying separate fees for litigation.
If your relationship is breaking down, collaboration can help you have open and constructive discussions with the other party involved. This helps you avoid any messy court battles over children, finances and property.
Collaboration works similarly to mediation in that it promotes a calm, pragmatic atmosphere where common ground is found. The aim is to maintain good relationships and, if the separation involves children, work towards a solution that is best for the family as a whole. Where collaboration differs from mediation is that each party has a collaboratively-trained lawyer representing them, unlike mediation which has one neutral mediator guiding discussions between both parties.
At the start of the collaboration process, both parties and lawyers agree in writing that they will not go to court. This means that later, should one person change their mind and decide to go to court, then both lawyers have to stop representing and the couple involved have to get new lawyers. All information discussed during collaboration is confidential. Therefore, should the process not work, none of the information shared can be used later in court.
Collaboration can help if you:
- Want to reach an outcome that is beneficial to the entire family.
- Want to be in control of the outcome, rather than relying on the courts to make decisions.
- Want to separate with dignity and avoid confrontation and arguments.
- Are open to communication and looking for mutually-agreeable solutions.
- Are willing to be honest with each other about your financial situations.
- Want to be respectful to each other and find a way that helps you co-parent successfully after separation.
To use collaborative law to resolve your issues, both parties must use a collaboratively-trained lawyer.