Is mediation compulsory for family matters? Should it be?

Written by William Hogg - 15.10.20

We understand that a relationship breakdown is hard enough without having to learn a whole new legal language. Here, we answer some common questions about mediation, and provide some clarity on the benefits.

Do I have to go to mediation?

Mediation is looked upon positively by the courts, and they want to encourage as many people to use it as possible. That’s why a MIAM (a mediation information and assessment meeting) is compulsory in many cases. We have experienced mediators in our team who can conduct your MIAM. However, you can choose not to mediate at this point, and you don’t have to continue with this course if it isn’t right for you.

In short, mediation is not compulsory, and if there are safety issues or other concerns, you may also be exempt from a MIAM. What partly makes mediation so effective is that it is voluntary – and making it compulsory would take away this advantage.

Why is mediation so encouraged by the courts?

Mediation is well suited to many family issues, as it mitigates tension and is not inflammatory like court proceedings can sometimes be. Your decisions and participation are voluntary, which means you’re more likely to find a solution which works for everyone in the long term. The mediator will help to make communication between you more effective, and that’s why it’s looked on so favourably – especially if children are involved. For disputes involving young children, making the resolution as positive as possible for them will be a priority, and mediation can help you do that.

But remember, mediation itself isn’t compulsory, and at Laurus our experts will be able to identify a course of action that works best for you. Sometimes, mediation won’t be an effective way to reach your ideal outcome, but the Laurus team each have their own specialisms when it comes to family law, so you’re guaranteed to have an experienced professional on your side if you choose another route

Two people talking on a sofa

What happens during mediation?

Mediation is essentially a series of meetings, where you and the other party involved come to an agreement on any issues you need to resolve. You won’t do this alone – a mediator is an impartial person who is there to discuss your options, make sure the talks are fair and that you both have a chance to speak. They won’t try to make you get back together with your partner, and they won’t choose sides.

The mediator can’t make legally binding decisions, but once you do decide something, they can help you make it into a consent order, which is issued by the courts.

Mediation usually takes place in a neutral but informal location, like a solicitor’s office. We would encourage you to instruct a family lawyer for yourself, alongside the mediator for both parties. Your Laurus lawyer will make sure everything is clear to you, and help you get a desirable outcome from your talks.

Is mediation right for me?

Family mediation can cover a range of issues, including children matters, relationships and relationship breakdowns, and financial or property disputes.

It’s not limited to married couples, and grandparents, civil partners, and former cohabitants can all use mediation to settle legal matters or disagreements. Children can even get their own form of mediation with a specialist, if you want to make sure their interests are being represented. We offer this at Laurus, and you can learn more here.

If you’re looking to explore ways to settle a dispute out of court, our dedicated team can help. We’ve plenty of experience in dispute resolution, and extra qualifications to back it up.

Feel free to get in touch with our Family Law Team on 020 3146 6300, or for friendly, professional and strictly confidential advice.