Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about the mediation process.
Do I have to attend Mediation?
No you do not have to attend mediation – mediation is a voluntary process. However, recent changes in the law mean that if you and your spouse or partner are in dispute about issues regarding financial matters or the children then before you can make any applications to the court you are required to attend a Mediation Initial Assessment Meeting known as M.I.A.M. The purpose of this initial meeting is to explain to you the different methods you could adopt in trying to resolve your disputes away from the courts. In the event that none of these different methods are suitable for you then the mediator will complete the form needed by the courts to show that you have attended a M.I.A.M. meeting and that mediation is not appropriate for your case.
How much does mediation cost?
Just Talk Mediation offers mediation sessions of either one hour or 90 minutes per session. Usually the fees of each session are divided equally between the couple but sometimes a couple may agree that one party will contribute more towards the other’s fees if one party is not earning. Payments are made in advance of each session either by cash, cheque or through internet banking. If sessions are missed a cancellation fee may be payable.
The price for a one hour session is £200 + VAT (£240 inclusive) which equates to £120 including VAT per person per hour.
The price of a 90 minute session is £250 + VAT (£300 inclusive) which equates to £150 including VAT per person per 90 minutes.
Once you and your ex partner or spouse have resolved your disputes you may wish to have the terms of your agreement put in writing. The preparation of such a document, setting out the terms of your solution which has been agreed between you both, costs between £300 + VAT and £500+VAT (£360 – £600) depending upon the complexity of the paperwork and the issues resolved between you both. This fee is divided between both of you and therefore means that you will both be paying between £180 and £300 each inclusive of VAT. The paperwork produced will be sufficient for your solicitors to be able to draw up a Court Order and provide you and your ex spouse or partner with clarity as to what was agreed between you both. The exact fees for any paperwork to be drawn up at the end of the process will be explained to you at the time and agreed with you in advance.
How long does the mediation process take?
Mediation takes as long as it takes for you and your ex partner or spouse to reach solutions to the issues you wish to resolve. Most separating couples resolve matters within three to six sessions. Some couples require fewer sessions; others more. Normally a mediation session takes place every three to four weeks so as to allow you both time between each session to reflect on what was discussed and how you feel about the options available to you. There may be a delay between sessions because you are both having to obtain financial information and paperwork such as pension figures and details regarding the mortgage. A timetable for the next session is normally agreed at the end of each session.
Once we are in the mediation process can I talk to you without my ex partner or spouse knowing?
As your mediator, it is paramount that I remain impartial, neutral and transparent. In order to maintain this transparency and impartiality I cannot speak to either of you separately away from the other once the mediation process has commenced. If either of you contact me during the mediation process then I will need to inform the other party of that contact and what was spoken about. Any communication I have with either one of you will be undertaken openly with the other party receiving a copy of any emails or letters that may be exchanged between us.
Is everything in mediation confidential and without prejudice?
What is discussed between the two of you is discussed on “without prejudice” basis. This means that what is discussed in mediation between the two of you cannot be used in court or by solicitors in the future if it becomes apparent that mediation is not going to work. This gives you both the opportunity to discuss options and explore ideas without fearing such suggestions may be used against you in the future.
Subject to two exceptions what is discussed in mediation is also confidential. The two exceptions are:
(1) if during a mediation session it becomes apparent to me that a child or adult is at risk of harm then I can report my concerns to appropriate authorities so that they may take steps to protect that child or adult.
(2) if during a mediation session, it becomes apparent to me that a financial crime is being committed or there is an issue regarding proceeds of crime I may disclose information to appropriate authorities in order to prevent further crime taking place.