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08/10/2018 By: Andrew Moore
Following almost a decade practicing as a family solicitor, I chose to train as a mediator. Why? At the time it seemed to be a sensible next step in my career; on a superficial level it would be another service, along with collaborative law, I could offer my clients in a bid to avoid a broken court system. There was however much more to the decision.
A family mediator’s role is as a facilitator of conversation and provider of information between or to a separating couple. The focus is on supporting them to reach their own decisions. Normally there are no solicitors involved in the actual mediation meetings; however, family mediators will recommend the couple each take legal advice from their own specialist family lawyer about the terms of any suggested agreement as well as getting a solicitor to formalise the agreement reached (look out for my blog on the role lawyers play in mediation later this week!).
Although I never underestimate the anxiety a separated couple may feel meeting face to face - sometimes for the first time in many months - doing so is in my experience a catalyst to progress being made, and quickly. I was (and still am) acutely aware that approaching decision making through solicitors or the courts does little to open up the lines of communication or start to rebuild trust to, for example, co-parent effectively. As a solicitor I rarely have the prospect of speaking to both parties and sharing the same information, or in return to hear both sides of the story to gain a greater insight to potential ways forward. Mediation affords me – and, more importantly, my clients - that opportunity.
Mediation brings other advantages too, and I wanted my clients to benefit from those. Progress towards resolving a dispute is quicker (no waiting for court hearings), cheaper and the couple are more in control of the process – they can focus on the issues which matter most to them and their family.
Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with the family mediators here at Mills & Reeve. And look out for further blogs from the team during National Mediation Awareness Week (6-12 October 2018) both here and on www.cohabitation-law.co.uk explaining what mediation is and the ways in which it could help your family.