Most families will encounter some form of conflict at one time or another. This is perfectly normal and can happen for many different reasons. Sometimes, however, it may be that conflicts arise between family members that seem like they cannot be resolved - this isn’t necessarily the case and there are options available to help find a solution.
At Miller Samuel Hill Brown we endeavour to resolve family disputes without the need to resort to litigation in court. Here we set out what Family Mediation involves, how it is different to court litigation and what benefits it has for family members.
Mediation is not the same as court litigation. It is an alternative method of dispute resolution which looks to avoid the cost, length and discomfort often involved in addressing family disputes in the courts.
A trained family mediator who is a solicitor and is also a neutral third party who will work with you and your family to help you resolve a dispute. For example, they can help separating or divorcing couples to reach agreements about financial arrangements and arrangements with children.
Mediation is centred on enabling couples to communicate with one another. It is a process centred on the family, where parties are free to discuss their arrangements with a mediator, who encourages cooperation between the couple. It creates an environment which allows couples to find their own solutions to their particular issues.
Couples can consider and discuss all options available to them. It provides an opportunity for them to exchange financial information and review arrangements for children in a neutral environment. They also have the benefit of having an impartial solicitor, the mediator, who has experience of resolving family disputes and knowledge of the relevant laws and processes present in their discussions.
Normally mediation will involve a series of appointments where you will meet with a mediator to discuss a dispute. The number of appointments necessary will reflect your needs as a family and the complexity of the issue you face. The process will not be rushed and all matters will be discussed fully and openly. This can be very helpful, especially when attempting to resolve disputes regarding children.
As was already mentioned, Family Mediation is handled very differently to how the courts would handle a family dispute:
Mediation is designed to encourage open and frank discussion between family members. As a result, mediators are bound by law to keep discussions that take place during mediation strictly confidential. There will be no involvement of or discussion with outside parties unless special circumstances warrant it.
There is also no need for concern about matters discussed during mediation to later become the subject of court litigation. It is generally not possible to use anything discussed in mediation in a courtroom unless both disputing parties agree to it. However, a court may need information on what was discussed at mediation if they have concerns regarding a child and their welfare, or if there are criminal activities that the court needs to have knowledge of.
The courts do not like to get involved in family disputes. However, they will become involved if they are asked to by quarrelling family members. Even if you are in the early stages of taking a dispute through the courts, you can ask the court if they would consider allowing the matter to be settled. It is also not uncommon for the court to suggest to family members to consider pursuing family mediation as an alternative to court litigation.
The important point to bear in mind is that Family Mediation, unlike court litigation, is designed to cater for the family’s needs. Disputes can be handled in a balanced and fair manner by expert lawyers without the need to resort to costly, and often lengthy, courtroom arguments. Furthermore, Family Mediation may also remove the risk of any long term damage to relationships given that, unlike in a courtroom, it is the families themselves that make the decisions.
As well as specialising in matters concerning Mediation we offer a full range of Family Law services.
Thinking about divorce or separation? Are you dealing with a family dispute that seems to be unresolvable or do you think you would benefit from some advice on what the law is? Speak to our team of expert family lawyers for legal advice about alternative dispute resolution on 0141 221 1919 or fill in our online contact form Our experienced solicitors will discuss options available to you in complete confidence, and determine if mediation would be an appropriate pursuit.