Frequently asked questions
Answers to some of the most commonly raised queries regarding Mediation and the law
Do I still need a solicitor?
Often a solicitor has been instructed before people come to Mediation – indeed it is often the solicitor who recommends Mediation with a view to avoiding protracted and expensive court battles. Whilst you do not need to have a solicitor when you start Mediation, all mediators recommend that parties take independent legal advice before they sign a final agreement containing the proposals they reach in Mediation.
Will whatever we agree in Mediation be legally binding?
Agreements made by parties either through solicitors or through Mediation are not legally binding until they have been endorsed by a Judge in the form of a Court Order. To make your agreement legally binding, you must instruct a solicitor to convert the Memorandum of Understanding (containing your agreed proposals and produced by the mediator in Mediation) into a Consent Order. Many solicitors offer this service on a fixed fee basis.
Will my children have to be involved?
Sometimes bringing the child(ren) into Mediation can be extremely helpful and crucially it gives the child a voice. However, the decision to bring a child into Mediation should always be the parents’ joint decision. There are strict processes in place which would be fully explained if the situation arises.
Susan Nathan is fully qualified to see children in Mediation, has dealt with many cases involving issues around parental contact and has negotiated successful outcomes in the overwhelming majority of cases.
Can I bring someone with me into the Mediation meeting?
You are welcome to bring a friend or family member to the initial meeting (MIAM). However, unless there are particular reasons why someone should accompany you in the Mediation session, and unless your ex-partner agrees, the Mediation will proceed with you, your ex-partner and the mediator.
Can I bring the children along?
Unless the child is actually attending the mediation, there are no facilities in the building for childcare and it is not a suitable environment for children of any age.
How many meetings will we have?
It is impossible to predict exactly how many meetings will be required until the MIAM session takes place and the issues you wish to discuss are outlined. However, couples who attend Mediation solely in relation to child related issues might expect to attend 2 sessions of mediation. Financial and/or child issues usually require 3 or 4 meetings. Please be assured that skilled and experienced mediators work at a pace suitable to the parties involved and in a solution focused and cost effective way.
Do we have to be in the same room together?
The short answer is No. During the MIAM meeting you can discuss with the mediator whether you wish to mediate in the same room (joint mediation) or in separate rooms (shuttle mediation). It is a matter for you which you prefer.
Will what I say in Mediation prejudice my legal rights if I have to go to court?
No. Mediation is a confidential process (unless there is reason to suspect that an individual or child may be at risk of harm). Mediators are not asked to prepare reports for courts or lawyers. Discussions that take place in sessions cannot be formally recorded or used in Court hearings.
My ex will not compromise on anything so how will Mediation help?
The intended outcome for Mediation is that agreement is reached between the parties, if not on all points, then most. Clients can be quite sceptical at first that a mediator can help solve all or any of the problems that arise on separation, but the Mediation process is designed to promote co-operation and communication so that both parties find a positive way through their separation. For those who cannot compromise or negotiate, Court remains an option, although the process is adversarial, expensive and time consuming – and to be avoided at all costs.