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What happens if my former partner won't go to Family Mediation?

View profile for Claire Knight
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Family Mediation is an entirely voluntary process and neither party can be forced to attend if they do not wish to. It is understandable that you may feel nervous or apprehensive at the idea of talking to a stranger about difficulties you are having in reaching agreement on certain matters following a divorce or separation. Claire Knight, Law Society accredited and Resolution trained Family Mediator, here explains how Family Mediation can help you reach an agreement and what happens if your former partner does refuse to attend.

If you have recently separated from a partner and are not able to reach a decision on what will happen with your children, for example where they will live, your finances, what happens to any jointly owned property or pension arrangements, then you may have considered Family Mediation as an option to reach those agreements. 

While Family Mediation is voluntary, there is, in most cases, a compulsory first step that must be considered before proceeding to Court, which is to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM).  Both you and your former partner will be invited to attend individual meetings, during which the circumstances of your case will be discussed and assessed as to whether Mediation could assist you, and is suitable. 

If your former partner has displayed signs that they will not be open to Family Mediation, inviting them to this individual meeting to discuss their concerns will hopefully resolve some of those anxieties, while also ascertaining what they are hoping to achieve for their future as well as helping them understand the many benefits of Mediation. 

At the same time, it is important that neither party feels like they have been forced into Family Mediation as this will not facilitate the right environment for Mediation to succeed.  If your former partner still refuses to attend the MIAM, or they attend but do not wish to participate in Mediation, or it is not suitable, then alternatives such as solicitor negotiations or an application to Court are sought.  In this situation, the Mediator will, if you wish, sign your form so you can proceed with an application to the Court.

What are the benefits of Family Mediation?

There are numerous benefits to attending Family Mediation opposed to leaving the outcome to the decision of a Judge, including:

  • Less stress – Mediation focusses on communication and discussions about why you feel the way you do, and allows you the opportunity to explore different arrangements.  Court proceedings however rarely give this opportunity to communicate, focussing instead on the causes of the hostility between the two of you, only increasing this feeling of animosity which can also be picked up by your children. 
  • Cost – While we do not offer Legal Aid for Mediation, we can discuss your needs on an individual basis and, in most cases, Mediation does tend to be more cost effective than going to Court.
  • Control – Going to Court will put the decision about your future into the Judge’s hands while Family Mediation will allow you to work together to discuss what happens with your family as the final decision is ultimately one that you are comfortable with; whereas you may not agree with the Judge’s decision and the Order that is made.   
  • Speed – Depending on the number of sessions, Mediation can normally be resolved within a matter of months compared to some Court cases which can last for up to a year.

“It is only natural to feel uncertain and sometimes be anxious about participating in Family Mediation; however in our experience people are normally relieved that they chose Mediation instead of proceeding to Court,” concludes Claire.  “By coming to us you can rest assured that you will be in safe hands and can discuss your own situation in a confidential and neutral environment, where you can have your voice heard as to how you can move forward in your future.”

To find out more about how Family Mediation could help you, contact Claire or the Family team today on 023 8071 7431 or email mediation@warnergoodman.co.uk.  Alternatively, you can find out more about the service we offer on the following links:

ENDS

This is for information purposes only and is no substitute for, and should not be interpreted as, legal advice.  All content was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot be held responsible for any changes that may invalidate this article.