Family Mediation Explained
Family mediation is a process in which an impartial third person, the mediator, assists those involved in conflict and disputes in families, to communicate better with one another, to reach their own agreed and informed decisions concerning some or all of the issues relating to family business, finance, property, separation, divorce, children and parenting.
Family Mediation refers to mediation that takes place within the uniqueness of family relationships as opposed to commercial, employment, community or relationships based on friendship. These relationships are more complex based on many critical aspects of identity, inter-generational family dynamics, tradition, longevity, roles, life experience, emotional attachment etc. Because of this, litigation is not a good option for resolving family disputes. As a confrontational process, it cannot always give due recognition to the emotional context of disputes nor provide for the nuances of agreements that would address the needs of those involved.
Family mediation provides privacy and confidentiality to families who wish to resolve their disputes in a manner that will preserve or repair the familial relationships involved. Where this is not possible, mediation will minimise the destructive fallout that can define many such disputes.
- Separating/ Divorcing Couples
- Parenting including maintenance and custody issues
- Inheritance Disputes
- Family Business Disputes
How The Process Works
- The mediator can be contact by any member of the family and/or their advisers. The mediator will then contact each person who will be involved in the mediation process directly, to make arrangements to meet with them online or in person.
- Pre-mediation meetings will be held between the mediator and each party separately online or in person. This enables the mediator to obtain a history of the conflict to date and gain an understanding of the perspective of each party. The mediator will also explain the process and ascertain the willingness and suitability of the parties to mediate.
- Once the mediator has concluded that the situation is suitable for mediation and the parties have agreed to participate, a date and venue is agreed upon. The venue is usually located in a hotel meeting rooms which provide privacy and space for the parties.
- Each party will be asked to sign an Agreement to Mediate at the commencement of mediation which will set out the terms and conditions of the mediation process.
- Prior to mediation each party will be requested to submit all documentation relevant to the mediation and by agreement, circulation of all necessary documentation. Where difficulties exist in this regard, they can be brought into the mediation process for consideration.
- The timing and duration of mediation will be agreed between the mediator and the parties. It usually takes place in half day or one day sessions. However, more complex issues may require a longer period of mediation to enable agreement to be reached.
- A written Mediated Agreement, including Financial Statements in the case of Mediated Separation Agreements, is drawn up by the mediator and signed by the parties involved. In the case of Mediated Separation Agreements, OAK provides agreements which are non-legally binding.
The Benefits of Family Mediation: A Process In Which Relationships Matter
- Mediation provides a safe and private place to talk about what can be very emotive and sensitive issues
- The process recognises the importance of family relationships and on restoring communication between family members
- Issues can be resolved in a way that family members choose themselves rather than having solutions imposed by a judge or other professional
- Solutions can be put in place that would not be possible through the Courts
- The mediator is impartial and outcomes must benefit all parties
- The process is based on dialogue which contributes to greater understanding of issues and underlying interests, leading to better decisions
- Mediation can be completed quickly and privately saving money and reputational damage