This is where a couple voluntarily agree to the appointment of a neutral third party, the mediator, to help them resolve the issues between them. The mediator’s role is to assist the couple to reach their own informed decisions by negotiation. The issues in dispute may include separation, divorce, children, property and financial matters.
The mediator has no authority to make decisions on these issues and instead will consider with the couple the available options and ‘reality test’ those with them to find the solutions which are likely to work best for them and their family.
Neither party needs to be legally represented. If they are, their legal representatives are not usually present at the mediation meetings. Other impartial third parties, such as family consultants and independent financial advisors can often assist during the process.
Decisions reached by the couple in a family mediation are not binding upon them until they have had the opportunity to seek legal advice if they want to.
The length of the mediation process is dependent upon the parties and how quickly they can resolve the issues between them. Meetings do not normally last more than 1.5 hours at a time. There are usually a number of such meetings depending upon the number and nature of the matters in dispute. The mediator’s fees are usually shared equally between the couple. The total cost obviously depends on the number of meetings necessary.