5 reasons why mediation is the best way in marriage breakdowns

No matter how difficult it may be, divorcing couples should consider the benefit of mediation over any other form of dispute resolution. While it’s sometimes difficult to mutually agree on decision, there are a number of reasons why it is for the best.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there has been huge rise in divorce rates during the COVID-19 pandemic and the various lockdowns. With many couples forced to spend more time together in the enclosed spaces of their home, alongside additional worries such as childcare constraints and money issues, it was only inevitable that such an event would lead to the dissolution of many relationships.divorce case mediation

In 2019, the divorce rate was at approximately 7.5%; but, nine months into 2020, it was found that the rate was up to roughly 33.3%. Deciding to track just how much enquiries increased during the pandemic and the varying lockdowns, one UK law firm saw a 122% increase in the amount of enquiries they received between July and October 2020.

Despite these difficult and unusual circumstances, one thing remains consistent – you should always look for a peaceful resolution to your relationship. While the pandemic has increased volatility and emotional turmoil, mediation remains the best way to navigate a marriage breakdown.

What is mediation?

Irrespective of whether a person is happy or sad to be getting divorced, there’s one part of the process that no-one looks forwards to – the legal separation. It is a heartbreaking time for all parties involved and the fear of going through a divorce is compounded with the thought of signing off documentation, going through intermediaries and, eventually, the dreaded and costly appearances in court.

This is where alternative dispute resolution comes in. These are the processes that can be approached to successfully navigate a divorce without having to go through lengthy court appearances. While there are a number of alternative dispute resolution approaches, the first one to try should always be mediation.

This is where you and your partner talk in a face-to-face manner with a trained, impartial mediator who will try and aid both of you in making mutually satisfactory agreements. It can also happen with both parties in separate rooms. The mediator will talk to you both to understand your perspectives, your individual priorities, the misconceptions or problems that could arise, and offer up ideas for solutions.

It is not the mediator’s job to tell you what to do – they are simply there to facilitate an agreement and to act as someone to bridge the divide between both you and your partner. However, it’s important to note that they will not step in to act in any party’s interest. Should you wish to have someone there who will think through the consequences on your life, you can hire a consulting attorney to help.

Five of the top reasons why you should go to mediation

There are a number of reasons as to why mediation is the go-to strategy when you are looking to settle a divorce; however, there are some reasons that stand out above others. We’ve compiled the top five reasons why the next step in deciding to separate from your partner should be mediation.

1. Costs less time and money

Both the monetary and time cost of mediation is a huge selling point over other forms of divorce settlement such as collaborative divorce and litigation. It currently costs £550 to file a court petition for divorce and solicitors can cost approximately £300/hour in the courtroom. And even before you get to court, you could even be paying as much as £100/letter in the protracted communications between you and your partner’s solicitors.

Not only that, but you also have to consider the cost of post-divorce living – especially if you have children. When all is said and done, you could have already racked up thousands of pounds worth of fees before you’ve even set foot in a courtroom! However, with mediation, you’ll either pay a by-the-hour or flat rate so you needn’t have many worries about costs spiralling out-of-control.

When it comes to time, legal proceedings can last anywhere between months to years, depending on the schedule. Currently, this is being made worse due to restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic as there was already a backlog before the pandemic. Mediation, however, is relatively quick and can be tackled within just a few weeks or, at worst, months – generally anywhere between two to less than 10 sessions.

2. You have more control

There can be nothing worse than feeling as if you’re not in control of how proceedings are going. Sadly, this is the case for many couples going through the agonising process of divorce proceedings in court. However, with mediation, you’ll find that you can have more input and less need to deal with rules or judges that don’t fully understand or empathise with your situation.

A mediator is not there to tell you what to do. Mediators are merely there to guide you and understand the priorities and wants of either party, and help you out when a compromise is needed. In closing, the mediator will produce a Memorandum of Understanding as well as an Open Statement of Financial Information. The former outlines the outcomes and the agreements by both parties, while the later is to enable a financial order to go through the courts.

3. Less animosity and stress

One of the most feared repercussions of divorce is the strained relationships that can occur not just between the couple, but the children and extended families. Mitigation  severely reduces this strain versus litigation as mediators are trained in counselling and are able to acknowledge the feelings of both sides.

This approach allows for the possibility of a relationship between the couple once the divorce has been finalised. This is even more crucial if children are involved in the divorce. Not only does it set a good example, but it’s important as parenting duties will continue beyond the split and this ensures your children get the best life possible. The mediator will be there to clarify things – such as where the kids go for school holidays or on weekends – in a way that is perfectly clear to both parties.

A mediator essentially makes sure there are no crossed wires and that no one person will dominate proceedings. They will prompt you to think things through, think with more empathy, reduce any argumentation to a minimum and make commentary when necessary. There is no need for there to be a ‘winner’ and a ‘loser’, as in court cases.

4. No public record

For those that like to keep things private, mediation offers the best way to do that. Matters are kept undisclosed and are not a matter of public record. If you pick an experienced mediator, you can rest assured that they will have dealt with hundreds of case anonymously and you needn’t worry about matters ever being disclosed beyond you, your partner and the mediator.

This means that even if there are disagreements or impromptu shouting matches, no-one will be any wiser. Your mediator will be bound by the Family Mediation Council’s code of conduct and policies that ensure that all info regarding the mediation is destroyed following completion. The only information that is retained is very basic to keep in line with the Data Protection Act and other relevant legislation.

5. You still have the option of court

It should be noted that even if the mediation process were to fail, you still have the right to litigate. As established above, mediation is a confidential process and mediators cannot be called to discuss the details of the mediation process. The only exception to this are any written agreements that were signed or any financial affidavits.

Do keep in mind the cost of money, time and energy that occurs when you choose to go to court. Mediation should always be the first and, in almost all cases, last step in divorce proceedings.

Foys mediation solicitors are here to help

At Foys Solicitors, we have our own specialist team of experienced mediators who have helped hundreds of families through their divorce process. We do this in three stages which we outline to all of our clients before any proceedings begin so you are fully aware of what is to come.

Our team has full Family Mediation Council accreditation and Family Mediation Association membership, meaning they have the best skillset and training for the job to ensure that your mediation process has every chance of succeeding. You will find our mediators to be outstanding – empathetic, caring, understanding, non-judgemental and legally qualified to help guide you and your partner through this difficult process.

To learn more about our mediation services and to get your FREE initial consultation, simply call Foys today on 01302 327 136, contact your nearest local office or fill in our online enquiry form on our Contact page.