We recognise the value of mediation as a flexible means of dispute resolution, allowing parties to reach mutually acceptable decisions in a voluntary, consensual and confidential manner. The issues to be faced can include those arising long after a divorce or separation. Mediators help the parties to establish a better dialogue, consider options, and test out possible solutions and can often enable more creative, tailor-made solutions than the court process allows. It is also available and useful for many other family disputes, such as inheritance disputes.
Mediation takes place within the framework of the law, and the mediators at Hughes Fowler Carruthers will be very clear if parties are considering a settlement that falls outside the ambit of a court’s discretion.
The classic model of family mediation means that the parties sit together in the same room as the mediator or mediators, and while they are encouraged to seek advice from their lawyers in between mediation sessions, the lawyers are not generally present. There are usually four to six mediation sessions of up to two hours each. That model does not work for everyone, and so we also offer lawyer assisted mediation. This can be particularly useful if the financial structures are very complex or if the parties are already locked in litigation. One or more days are set aside for the mediation, and the mediator talks to each party and his/her legal team separately, understanding what drives each party, what their concerns are and exploring options. It can be a highly effective method of achieving a solution that is acceptable to everyone concerned.
Court rules now require attendance at a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) before initiating court actions regarding children or financial arrangements on divorce or civil partnership dissolution, except in certain circumstances. We have good links with mediators in central London or elsewhere who are qualified to undertake these meetings.
At Hughes Fowler Carruthers, three partners are accredited mediators, and we are well known in the mediation world. We are all well positioned either to refer clients to good mediators where appropriate or to act as mediators ourselves.