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Family Dispute Resolution and Mediation

Relationship breakdown is a stressful experience. With so many decisions about finances and arrangements for children to be made, it is easy for disagreements to flare up. Without expert family law advice, these arguments can quickly spiral out of control, sometimes leading to lengthy court proceedings.

At mfg Solicitors, we help families resolve separation issues as constructively and harmoniously as possible. We can advise clients in relation to all of their options as to how best a settlement can be reached so you can make an informed decision about the best way to proceed.

If you and your ex-partner are prepared to sit down together to work through your issues, one alternative is making a referral to mediation. This is an Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism by which the parties attend meetings to try and discuss and reach an agreement about their finances or any other area of dispute under the guidance of a mediator.

We can advise as to how the mediation process works, assist and advise our clients throughout the mediation process, including the drafting of any final agreement and we can recommend local mediators with whom we have worked for many years.

For expert advice about family dispute resolution and mediation, get in touch with our family law solicitors today. We serve clients across the West Midlands with local offices in Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster, Ludlow, Telford and Worcester.

What is family mediation?

Family mediation is the process of sitting down with your ex-partner to discuss family issues and try to come to an agreement. Mediation can work for any number of issues, including:

  • Divorce and civil partnership dissolution financial settlements
  • Arrangements for children on separation (including where they will live, how much time they will spend with each parent, and child maintenance payments)
  • Nuptial agreements – for couples who want to protect their individual financial interests both going into and on marriage
  • Cohabitation agreements – for couples who live together but are not married to protect their interests

Your meetings will take place in a neutral, informal environment under the guidance of a trained mediator. The mediator is there to guide your discussions and defuse any conflict where possible. They will not give you legal advice nor will they take sides. They do not act like a judge so will not make a decision for you at the end of the sessions. Any agreement you reach is entirely down to you.

What are the benefits of using family mediation?

The mediation process is usually cheaper, faster and more effective in the long term than family court proceedings because:

  • The nature of the mediation environment tends to encourage cooperation between parties, defusing potential for conflict before it has time to arise. Court proceedings on the other hand naturally tend to foster a “me versus you” attitude.
  • Rather than having to wait for the court to list hearings (which often takes months) you can schedule mediation to work around your schedule, allowing you to come to an agreement much faster.
  • There are typically fewer disagreements between parties, so the process usually takes much less time than court hearings.
  • There are costs to go to mediation but these are typically much lower than going to court.
  • The resulting settlement will be completely agreed by you and your partner/ex-partner, making it more likely that both of you will stick to it in the long term.

How does the family mediation process work?

Initial consultation with our family law solicitors

We will explain the mediation process to you in detail as well as getting to know you and your personal goals so we can decide whether it is the right option for you.

You will then be able to make an informed decision about whether to move forward with mediation or whether other options, such as collaborative law, might suit you better.

Attending family mediation

Mediation usually take a few sessions before the participants are able to reach a fully formed agreement. Before your first session starts, you will typically be asked to sign an Agreement to Mediate. This means that nothing you say during mediation can later be used in court proceedings and you can speak completely openly about your expectations and negotiate without worry.

Both you and your partner/ex-partner will be given the opportunity to speak during the sessions. The mediator will always ensure one party is not dominating the proceedings and will help you defuse any disagreements.

The mediator will make a written record throughout the process of what you agree. You will receive a copy of this and we can provide legal advice on your proposals.

Coming to an agreement

Once you have reached a satisfactory agreement on all the issues you need to discuss, the mediation process will end. The mediator will turn your agreement into a Memorandum of Understanding which we will provide independent family law advice on to ensure it is fair and beneficial to you.

You can return to mediation even after a Memorandum of Understanding has been made if you decide the agreement is not working for you.

Making your agreement legally binding

The Memorandum of Understanding is not a legally binding document by itself. However, we can apply to court for a Consent Order which will formalise the agreement. Providing your agreement is fair to all parties, you probably will not have to attend court – the judge can approve it on your application alone.

Once the Consent Order has been made, all parties must honour it. If your partner/ex-partner does not follow the agreement, you can apply to court to enforce it. However, you cannot change a Consent Order simply by going back to mediation. You will have to make another application to court to make any changes.

Why choose mfg Solicitors’ family lawyers?

mfg is an established firm of solicitors dedicated to serving individuals and businesses across the West Midlands. With offices in Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster, Ludlow, Telford and Worcester and two satellite offices in Quinton and Cleobury Mortimer, we have built our reputation on our expertise and love for our local communities.

The hallmark of our service is our personal approach to family law cases. We are a relatively large firm with a broad range of experience. However, we take the time to get to know each and every one of our clients so we can deliver solutions which work for them in the long-term.

We understand that family law issues can be stressful, particularly where you are dealing with relationship breakdown and/or you are concerned about the impact on your children. We hope that with our assistance, you will be able to move on with your life feeling happy and confident in no time at all.

As a firm, we are members of the Family Law Accreditation with Claire Backler being a panel member since its inception.

Many of our family law solicitors are members of Resolution, including Gurdip Kaur-Brring, Rupinder Nandra, Katherine Tippetts, and Alison Webber. This means we are committed to helping clients resolve family law issues cooperatively, with as little stress or disruption to their lives as possible.

Get in touch with our family law solicitors today

For expert advice about family dispute resolution and mediation, get in touch with our family law solicitors today. We serve clients across the West Midlands with local offices in Birmingham, Bromsgrove, Kidderminster, Ludlow, Telford and Worcester.