How to use dispute mediators in family matters


If your relationship with your partner breaks down, and there are serious assets to think about, your first reaction may be to seek a judgement from the courts. However, resolving the disagreement can often be achieved successfully by using dispute mediators with training in family mediation.

Going to court may be necessary in some cases, but using dispute mediators initially can often prove to be more efficient, and more cost-effective.

Money saving

Mediation is popular with the government because it has been shown that disputes that go to mediation cost on average up to 50% less than those disputes that go all the way to court.

In the private divorce sector, a typical court divorce can cost anything between £20,000 and £50,000 in lawyers' fees and court costs. By contrast, a typical divorce case using mediation services can cost far less, between £5,000 and £10,000.

What is a family mediator?

A family mediator is a trained specialist who conducts mediations specific to family law matters.

Mediation is a dispute resolution process that is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to settling disputes in court. Mediators play an important part in this by offering their services as a well-informed and impartial third party to a dispute.

Family mediators will have experience in many issues including:

  • Custody arrangements
  • Dividing of financial assets
  • The status of the family home

Mediation can be used after an initial court decision if the circumstances of the parties change. For example, if the parent with the main custody of a child plans to move away making access for the remaining parent more difficult, this may require renegotiation.

Family solicitors can be trained to take on the role of family mediator or they can recommend a trustworthy family mediator service.

How does mediation work?

Dispute mediators are independent third parties who attempt to resolve your disagreement through negotiation. Often, when an impartial expert looks at your dispute they can identify ways of coming to a mutually agreeable resolution that you may not have considered.

Note: the services of dispute mediators are not free. If you have problems paying for these services you may be able to obtain help under the Legal Aid scheme. Contact the Community Legal Aid advice line on: 0845 345 4345. If legal aid isn’t a viable option for you (i.e. your level of salary means you are not eligible) then we can put you in touch with a qualified mediator.

Any agreements that are made with the help of dispute mediators are not legally binding. If you do want to formalise the agreement you have reached, you will have to go to court.

A solicitor then becomes vitally important to ensure the agreement that is being put before the court is legal and in the best interests of all parties.

If you are unsure whether a family solicitor or family mediator is best for you, we can inform you of the advantages of each. Contact Law can put you in touch with a family law solicitor or mediator free of charge. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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