InsightsInsight - Family and Divorce - POSTED: October 1 2020
COVID-19: face-to-face mediation appointments
While it’s true to say that no two marriages are the same, similarly, no two divorces are the same.
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When couples separate there will be changes to arrangements that will have to be made.
If children are involved, the couple will need to agree where the children will live and how they will share their time between those who care for them. If there is joint property or other assets they will need to be divided. Decisions will need to be made about how income might need to be shared.
Our role as family lawyers is to help those going through separation and divorce to agree those arrangements, resolving their issues in a way that best suits both them and their family. We will always work to ensure that agreement is reached as quickly and effectively as possible and in a way that encourages communication and understanding and avoids conflict and acrimony.
Some couples can sit together around the kitchen table and agree the arrangements they want to make between themselves. For many more couples the emotional impact of a separation and the stress that it causes can make such discussions difficult, if not impossible.
Where a couple cannot agree the arrangements between themselves or are looking for guidance on the discussions they are having, we recommend seeking some early legal advice. This will help them gain an understanding of the issues they might need to think about and the options they have for agreeing the arrangements they will need to make.
How mediation works
If a couple can or has been discussing the arrangements that they want to make but need some extra help, we recommend mediation. Mediation is a process where the couple meets with a specially trained mediator who will help the couple discuss the issues it needs to resolve. We offer mediation as part of our service and continue to offer face-to-face mediation meetings with social distancing measures in place, as we recognise the benefits to couples of holding such meetings in person.
During mediation the couple keeps control of the outcome and the mediator will not tell the individuals what to do. The mediator will provide information and support to help the couple through the issues it has found more difficult. Mediation can be a challenging process, but we find that it offers the benefit of maintaining good communication rather than damaging it.
Every couple is unique. If mediation does not provide enough support for a couple, then there are many other options to resolve issues between the parties. For some couples it will simply be too difficult to sit in a room and discuss the issues that need to be resolved. Even in these circumstances we would seek to avoid court proceedings if possible.
We work hard to maintain good relationships with other family lawyers in the area which helps us to work with them towards negotiated settlements without the need for litigation.
There are still times when an application to the court is necessary to protect an individual’s position when it’s clear that negotiations will not be possible. While an application to the court would ordinarily be a last resort, we recognise that there are cases where it’s necessary. We have decades of litigation experience in our team and always seek to manage cases efficiently and effectively.
This content is correct at time of publication
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