This is a question, among others, that The Divorce Magazine posed to Family Mediator Paul Sanford of Albert Square Mediation.
Paul explained that family mediation is an informal process for those going through divorce or any other a family dispute.
How does Family Mediation Work?
The parties meet informally and through the mediator (or sometimes two mediators), they can work through their differences and hopefully, reach an agreement that can be put in writing.
As a divorce process family mediation remains a voluntary process. This means it’s not compulsory to go through the mediation process in order for you to complete the divorce process.
As a divorce process, family mediation remains cheaper, quicker and the pressures that go with court litigation are simply not there. It does give the parties the opportunity to focus on what matters and what needs to be resolved.
By the end of the process, people are very pleasantly surprised by A) the bill and B) the length of time that it takes to complete.
How to Prepare for the First Family Mediation Session?
The first session would be a pre-meditation session which would probably be a meeting held with each party. The only “paperwork” that you will be required to show or bring with you at the first meeting is two items of proof of identity.
Other than that, Paul suggest that before the meeting you, A) think things through and B) prepare for what you would like the future to look like.
Also when it comes to completing the divorce papers, it is so vital that you are complete them properly, openly and as thoroughly as possible. This done well, saves time and money.
Mediators are committed to giving good value money but they cannot do this without your full participation.
Family mediation isn’t a magic wand that you wave and all falls into place. You have to be ready to work for you to reach that agreement that suits you both. You need to come prepared to be flexible and ready to compromise, especially when it comes to the children and contact issues.
Do Family Mediators and Family Solicitors Collaborate?
They do but one major difference is that family mediators are completely impartial and cannot be seen to give advice as solicitors can.
Is the Agreement Reached Legally Binding?
The agreement of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) can indeed be made legally binding by having the lawyers slightly redraft, if need be, and having it reproduced as a consent order by the court.
Paul Sandford is an accredited civil mediator, family mediator and Tribunal Judge
He mediates for a leading UK charity, has been appointed a governor/mediator at a London Secondary School and has the benefit of having worked as a solicitor for around 25 years. He has also worked as a trainer and university lecturer and has considerable experience of working with people who are disabled or who do not have English as a first language.
As well as being Regents University accredited, Paul recently completed ADRg civil/commercial and family training and is working towards becoming an accredited family mediator.
He has particular knowledge and experience of housing, property/commercial, medical and public law issues and employment, workplace, family and educational disputes. He is a member of two mediation panels: Clerksroom, which has excellent conference call facilities, and the Business Mediation Group. In his spare time Paul enjoys cooking, football, test cricket and listening to the blues, and fundraises for his school.