Direct Mediation Services

Everything You Need to Know About Family Dispute Resolution

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Family Dispute Resolution

Family Dispute Resolution is something that is used to try and sort out disputes that arise within the family without using the Courts. Families experience conflict, but sometimes this can be to an extent where it is causing a lot of strain to those involved. At Direct Mediation Services we specialise in mediation as a form of family dispute resolution; there are also other types of alternative dispute resolution, such as arbitration and conciliation.

Family dispute resolution, such as mediation, can be used to resolve many types of family conflicts and disputes.

The conflicts that arise in the family, some examples include:

  1. Divorce and Separation: One of the most common disputes, divorce and separation can lead to a variety of issues. It could be around your finances (the family home, pensions) and/or around child arrangements. Actually, mediation is the recommended first step in resolving these disputes (you cannot make a Court application without having first attending a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)).
  2. Child Arrangements: Child Arrangements don’t always arise as part of divorce/separation disputes. Parenting disputes could be around education or health, or it could be how often your children spend time with each parent and for how long. Alternative family dispute resolution can be helpful in getting to the root cause of the conflict and resolving it so that you can be stronger coparents in the future.

Grandparents Rights: Grandparents also can face conflicts in spending time with their grandchildren. The law can be a little more complex for grandparents – you can also read more about Grandparents rights in the UK and emergency child arrangements order.
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How can I resolve family conflict?

It can sometimes come as a surprise when you get into conflict with your family. They are your loved ones – “blood is thicker than water”. Yet sometimes conflicts do arise and it can be challenging to navigate this in an amicable way. Some people might have an initial reaction of “We are going to Court!”, which is not always the best step forward. Family dispute resolution allows for a non-adversarial process, which keeps you and your family in control of decision making.

It can be difficult to know where to start. If you feel you have exhausted all options to resolve between yourselves, you may feel that you need someone independent – such as a mediator – to be involved to facilitate the conversation. Sometimes, support from our professional and trained mediators can allow you to have better conversations and maybe find solutions that you had not considered.

There are times, however, where mediation or other forms of family dispute resolution don’t work. In these circumstances, a Court order may be the only resolution. This should, however be thought of as a last resort. It is important to consider, however, that in some circumstances Court will be the only option, such as where there is domestic abuse, or there are concerns over significant harm toward children.

A key difference however between Court and resolution methods such as mediation is that Court does not look at the root of the problem – their role is to make an order that is in the best interests of any children involved. Whilst this is the case at mediation too, as mediators we also will support you to consider what the problems are and what can be done to overcome them. Using an experienced accredited mediator can help you and your family to look to the future and leave the issues behind you.

Can you tell me more about Family Mediation?

We have written extensively on our blog section about Family Mediation. In short, the term describes a legal process where a trained, accredited family mediator will act as a third party and support participants to reach agreements on various family issues. This is mainly in relation to child arrangements, property, and finances.

Mediation offers a safe and neutral environment to discuss the dispute with full confidentiality. It allows you to be in charge of decision making, unlike Court where decision making is in the hands of a judge.

There are four principles of mediation, which your mediator will explain to you:

  1. It is voluntary – this means that there is no requirement to come to mediation and for it to go ahead, everyone must be willing to do it. You can withdraw from mediation at any time.
  2. It is confidential – what happens at mediation, stays at mediation.
  3. It is impartial – your mediator does not take sides or represent either of you during the process.
  4. It is self-determined – as above, at mediation you are in charge of the decision-making.

An idea of the mediation process is detailed below:

  1. MIAMs – firstly, you both must attend an individual Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Your ex won’t be at this meeting. This is a confidential meeting between you and your mediator. Your mediator will explain the mediation process and provide you with information. They will ask you questions about the case, and will assess the case for its suitability for mediation. The MIAM allows you to make an informed decision whether to proceed to mediation.
  2. After your MIAM, we will send invitations to the other party to ask if they would like to attend their own separate MIAM.
  3. After you have both attended MIAMs, you will have a joint mediation session. This can either be face to face (where you can both see and speak to each other directly) or through shuttle (where you will speak to the mediator separately and they will feedback to each of you).
  4. At the joint sessions you will discuss the dispute, make proposals, and hopefully come to agreements. If you do come to an agreement, your mediator will draft documents that you can rely on informally, or convert into legally binding agreements through your solicitor.

Throughout the mediation process, your family mediator will support you to communicate, discuss proposals, and hopefully reach an agreement. Family mediators are impartial in the process, they do not take sides or represent either of you. You can expect your mediator to guide the discussions in a structured way. Often mediators will support you to set an agenda – a list of the points for discussion. Your mediator will ensure to address any imbalances of power that arise, will try to keep conversations as calm as possible, and provide you with legal information.

Your mediator will not provide you with legal advice, so it can be beneficial to have had some legal advice either prior or during the mediation process. This can help you to form proposals for discussion at mediation. Sometimes your mediator may direct you to get some legal advice, particularly when discussing financial arrangements.

How can I book?

If you would like to book in for family mediation you can do so by clicking here. Alternatively, if you would like to talk to someone first you can contact our friendly team at 0113 468 9593 or fill in the form below.

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