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What Is Mediation And Does It Apply To Family Law Cases?

For anyone involved in a family law matter, there is likely tension, upset and frayed tempers flaring whenever the issue is up for debate. Reaching an agreement acceptable to all parties can be difficult when emotions run high. Add to that the inevitable stress and great expense of going to court. In many cases, however, avoiding taking matters to a family law court makes sense.

However, reaching a decision and achieving the best outcomes for those involved is likely with help and support. The services of a mediator may help, but a solicitor can be invaluable. When a couple wishes to separate, many matters must be resolved. Remaining objective and agreeable is difficult without guidance.

Whether the areas up for discussion are personal, home, finance or child related, reaching an amicable agreement on issues surrounding separation and the future requires couples to consider mediation before resorting to the courts.

Is Mediation Mandatory?

While mediation is not yet mandatory, the services of a neutral third-party trained mediator can be one answer, but it is essential to understand its limitations. A mediator guides couples and facilitates agreement over matters including childcare, asset division and financial provisions. However, they cannot give legal advice or insist on accord by any party. 

Some leading solicitors, such as O’Donnell Solicitors, feel there are other ways forward than mandatory mediation. Forced mediation will devalue its effectiveness and likely lead to more cases heading to court if couples feel pressured from the outset. If couples are forced to mediate, this is at odds with the critical aims of mediation for parties to be prepared to compromise and agree not by force but by mutual acceptance of chosen outcomes. 

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Mediation is a lower-cost alternative to court. However, this can go wrong when a suitable outcome is not achieved, and parties then turn to the courts and need legal advice, incurring the costs of both routes at significantly higher costs.

Mediators can also not offer legal advice, often leading to clients making mistakes or missing opportunities. Clients who seek separate legal advice could avoid being disadvantaged and making decisions that could be costly to their finances and future well-being.

Seeking legal advice alongside mediation can be expensive, so it’s worth considering if you are likely to benefit from mediation and instead choose to use a family law solicitor, where agreement can still be achieved without court involvement.

Family Law Solicitors Can Achieve Amicable Family Agreements, Avoiding The Expense Of Mediation And Court

A family law solicitor can help parties reach an amicable decision using a pragmatic approach that understands how family court decisions are made. A more informed perspective brings advice specific to your circumstances and the support to handle negotiations confidently with the knowledge that results are achieved are likely in line with results you can expect from a court. In this case, clients are better prepared to settle without forcing the matter to court. Solicitors can offer the same outcomes but without the added costs and stress.

Seeking solid legal advice early in the separation means family matters can be resolved with the help of a family law solicitor, experienced in such cases, working with you to achieve the best outcomes for you, your family, and your finances. It is always in people’s interest to avoid issues arising from a relationship breakdown, especially when children or new relationships can make matters tense for all involved.

It is best for everyone involved when matters can be finalized without requiring lengthy, costly, and emotionally charged court cases. Yet, this approach still requires understanding what is likely to be ordered and what outcomes are possible, something a family law solicitor is well versed in.

There are also many situations, such as domestic abuse or safety concerns, mediation may be unsuitable. The court is not always the next step, though. First, seek advice from an experienced solicitor to keep costs and time under better control.

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