What is Family Arbitration and Mediation?

What is Family Arbitration and Mediation?

Family breakdown can be a challenging time and there are different options for solving family law issues such as finances, property and your children’s issues. At McPartland & Sons Solicitors, we have helped create a guide that will help you understand how you can resolve your issues by means of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) without using the court process.

What is Family Mediation?

Family Mediation offers the opportunity for separating couples to take control of their future arrangements by helping them find solutions that suit their family circumstances and prevent their entry into the Court. The process is also appropriate in other circumstances relating to family disputes. The aim of family mediation is to help separate couples find private solutions to private problems, and reduce trauma to all and reduce costs. 

Parents are encouraged to find new ways to connect post-separation – establish a parenting plan, negotiate on communication and residency and access to other extended family members, the role of new spouses, new friends, in fact any topic they want to discuss can be discussed in a healthy and constructive atmosphere with a focus on the children’s needs. They are helped in developing their own Mediation Agreement. Direct child Consultation is an additional part of the process used in those cases assessed as appropriate.

There are family mediation services available for parents having relationship problems. They can have relationship counselling and therapy. When parents decide to separate, they can use the pre-court family mediation service. It’s a free service. 

How Family Mediation Can Help

Mediation is voluntary. A neutral mediator works with a couple to identify how the family will be affected by separation or divorce, and find agreement about children, finance, and property. Support and mediation can help couples develop a better relationship between themselves and their children after finalising the divorce.

Seven stages of the mediation process:

  • Initial contact with the first party
  • Initial contact with the second party
  • Preparing to work on the dispute
  • Setting the scene – hearing the issues
  • Exploring the issues
  • Building agreements
  • Closure and follow-up.

What is the role of the mediator?

Mediators help people define their own desires, explain problems, discuss circumstances and develop their own understanding. Mediators should not counsel the contested, Mediators are not consultants, but they help people interact with each other. Mediators are neutral, and should not be interested in the outcome of the process. 

The mediator will:

  • Remain non-judgemental
  • Listen actively
  • Act impartially
  • Encourage changes in perspective
  • Seek out underlying needs and interests

Elements of successful mediation

Those in dispute should willingly take part and should be prepared to be open and honest about the situation and their part in it. They should want to work cooperatively with the other party to find a solution, want to continue to have a civilised relationship and feel that they are in a safe atmosphere.

However, mediation may not work if people feel coerced to take part, if one person is reluctantly attending, if another service such as counselling is deemed more appropriate, if they have no desire to build a future relationship, if they feel unsafe or if the mediator has a vested interest in the outcome of the mediation.

For more information on pre-court mediation services, go to Family Mediation NI website or contact us at McPartland & Sons Solicitors and we will be happy to help you through this difficult process.