Mediation and Collaborative Practice
The Collaborative Law Approach
Retaining control of your future is arguably a more favourable and a less risky way to approach any family law related matter. On some occasions, this is not possible as a court’s jurisdiction has to be invoked for good and sound reasons but, where possible, a collaborative approach or mediation should be considered.
Both parties will need to give instructions to a qualified collaborative lawyer and sign a "participation agreement". This confirms that you both agree that you will not make a court application in relation to the issues in hand. Discussion, negotiation and agreements take place by attending “four-way meetings". This is where both lawyers and both parties meet together in the same room to discuss the issues, agree a course of action and what information/documentation is necessary and thereafter negotiate a mutually beneficial settlement of the issues.
This method of resolution is really only appropriate for those who are willing to be flexible and to compromise. The benefits have to be that a court does not become involved in any decision making, save to seal or approve any final agreements made in money related cases. Therefore, this alleviates the risk of a judge, who will be a complete stranger to you, from making a decision about your children, assets and family’s future.
Mediation helps you and your family keep in control of the process to a much greater extent than if a court has to be involved. Mediation is conducted in a safe and relaxed environment where you are able to express your views, concerns, wishes and feelings. A mediator is not there to advise you or your partner/spouse. The mediator is there to facilitate and manage the mediation process and to act as an impartial third party to assist you both in reaching an acceptable solution to the issues you may have, testing each party's views along the way. The mediator will ensure that there is an opportunity for both parties to be heard and make available to you any information that may be useful to you along the way.
If you have already engaged a solicitor, they will still advise in the background, preparing you for your mediation sessions but they will not be present on the day. The mediation process is a private and confidential process and it is only financial disclosure that can be used in court proceedings if mediation were to prove unsuccessful.