I can help you bypass the truly awful adversarial process of the courts at the time of the breakup...

Jo O'sullivan

Mediation

Mediation and separating and separated couples

I am recognised as an accredited family mediator with the Family Mediation Council.  I am accredited for all issues mediation, which means I can help you with facilitating arrangements for the children and finances.  I am an experienced Hybrid mediator. 

Anyone involved in family proceedings is aware that the use of mediation provides a very real and often successful alternative to going to court to resolve their dispute.  It is seen as a really cost effective way to sort things out for separating families.  

What is mediation?

It’s a process to help resolve financial and children arrangements.  

I give lots of legal information to help you make decisions.  This will fall short of legal advice for which I always recommend that you get. 

How does mediation work?

I meet with you each individually, in the first instance, so we can get to know each other and see if we all feel mediation is appropriate.  This meeting is agreed to be confidential.  

The first mediation meeting

You and your partner will then meet with me and outline the issues you need to resolve. If you have children then I will focus on them first and check to see how arrangements are working out. We might also talk about how to provide your financial information, fix the date or dates of future meetings and/or raise anything which is of immediate concern to either or both of you.

Working out the details

Further meetings will be scheduled at which we may need to consider options for the children. You may also exchange financial information and consider options to sort things out. I may suggest other help, such as financial advice or support for your children. Between meetings you may wish to meet with your lawyer for advice.

Finalising the proposals

Once you have proposals you both find acceptable l will prepare a summary of these together with a summary of the financial information which will be sent to each of you to discuss with your lawyers. After you have both received legal advice those lawyers will convert the summary into a legally binding document and carry out any necessary implementation.

Hybrid Mediation

What is hybrid mediation?

A combination of the civil and family models of mediation. It is particularly suited to high conflict or complex cases, as participants can involve their lawyers directly in the process giving them additional support, as well as direct and timely access to legal advice.

What are the benefits of hybrid mediation?

  • Quicker: mediation can take place over the course of a day; Usually requires fewer sessions; outcome documents produced immediately;
  • Cost effective: takes less time, and involves less duplication of effort when lawyers are involved at the mediation meetings, rather than advising between mediation sessions.
  • Reduces conflict: thereby enabling focus on the issues and outcomes in a calmer and more rational way;
  • People are empowered and supported;
  • Increases certainty of outcome: As people’s lawyers can be involved and the process is more efficient, there is less risk that someone may change their minds as can happen when advice is only sought between meetings;
  • Confidential: People can confidentially explore options with the mediator without commitment or raising expectations;

What sorts of family issues can be sorted using hybrid mediation?

All manner of family issues, including financial matters (including those with an international element), children matters, inheritance issues and wider family disputes that may involve other family members such as parents or grandparents.

When is hybrid mediation appropriate?

Hybrid mediation is particularly useful in the following situations:-

  • When the issues in the case are complex;
  • Where separate meetings (which can be supported by lawyers) would be beneficial;
  • When either of the people may feel unable to sit in the room with the other person;
  • If there is an imbalance of power between the participants to the mediation;
  • Where there are high levels of conflict;
  • If there is a concern about domestic abuse, an imbalanced power dynamic, or another reason why either person finds it hard to have a voice;
  • Where an element of confidentiality is needed

How is hybrid mediation different to other family mediation?

  • People can have the support of their lawyers directly and throughout the process;
  • People (and their lawyers, if needed) usually sit in separate rooms;
  • The mediator can keep confidences, to assist in reaching a compromised outcome;
  • Meetings can take place over a half or full day;
  • People do not have to delay discussions in order to consult with their solicitors between meetings;
  • Other professionals such as neutral financial experts can be involved;
  • Lawyers are better able to draft the outcome documents having been involved throughout, and can do so promptly as soon as agreements have been reached;

How does hybrid mediation work?

  • Initial separate meetings with the participants to screen and explore the issues;
  • (If lawyers are supporting) a meeting with both lawyers to discuss their role, the information needed, and the format of meetings;
  • Hybrid mediation meetings then take place separately or jointly or a combination of both. Lawyers do not need to attend all meetings;
  • Lawyers’ roles are to support their clients and give independent legal advice: the mediator remains in control of the process and discussions are between the participants;
  • If a mediated outcome is achieved, the lawyers can immediately draft the necessary outcome documents.

Confidential meetings – what are the benefits?

People can discuss things with the mediator in a way they might not feel comfortable doing if the other person were also present. People can explore options with the mediator without commitment or raising expectations.

Confidential meetings – what sort of things might be confidential?

This is specific to each person and situation, but normally includes the reasoning behind options for settlement or the people’s hopes and concerns. Or it might be that they are in the midst of negotiation and will tell the mediator something they don't, for the moment, want passed on. This helps the mediator to bring about a settlement. 

What are the costs involved?

Hybrid mediation is very cost effective. The costs of the mediator in hybrid mediation are generally met equally by the participants, but can be whatever proportions they decide.

Each person will be responsible for their own lawyer’s costs. The lawyers’ direct involvement in the process reduces the need for people to liaise with their lawyers between meetings. It reduces the need for inter-solicitor correspondence (expensive letter writing). Outcome documents can be produced immediately.

MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting)

The Pre-action Protocol requires parties who intends to issue family proceedings to attend a meeting to learn about family mediation and other Dispute Resolution processes, unless certain exemptions apply.  This is known as a MIAM's meeting (Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting).  Often when couples hear about mediation, Arbitration, Private FDR's and Early Neutral Evaluation  and Collaborative Practice they use one or a mixture of these as a mechanism to bring about agreement rather than court. In the alternative, I can complete the relevant court forms noting that you have attended a MIAM's meeting with me or that I have assessed mediation as not being appropriate. 

Please call me to discuss mediation or any of the other options I offer. Call me on 07780 676 212  or email me on jo@osullivanfamilylaw.com.