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The process of family mediation
The general process for mediation is:
- the couple chose mediation and decide what type of mediator they wish to instruct and the type of mediation model they wish to undertake
- the couple approach a mediator (often through their solicitors) who then engages with the couple by way of a three-way email setting out how they propose to undertake the mediation
- often the mediator will send a preliminary information form to the couple for them to complete and return — this is the only confidential document in themediationand it allows the couple to set out their own individual views of the elements in dispute and to request a separate short meeting ('intake session') at the beginning of themediationto see whether or notmediationis the right process for them
- at the intake session the couple will each be offered the opportunity to see the mediator for approximately 30 minutes on their own to talk about mediation in general, the principles of mediation and how it will work, together with the specific issues in their own case—the mediator will then have an understanding of whether or not mediation is suitable and whether the clients like the idea of going forward in mediation
- the couple can opt to have a joint intake session—a joint session will be appropriate where there is a high degree of consensus between the couple
- the intake session, whether undertaken on an individual or joint basis, is a form of screening which, together with the preliminary information form, enables the mediator to decide whether or not the case is suitable for mediation
- if the couple decide they wish to be engaged in the mediation process, and the mediator agrees that it is suitable, the couple will then go through the agreement to mediate and everybody will sign it — this is a contract that effectively governs the mediation process
- the couple and the mediator together will work out how they are going to take matters forward, formulating an agenda and then working through the process usually having three to five sessions where they will consider option developments and gradually reduce the options down to a final option that they believe is suitable for them
- the option agreed by the couple will be cross checked by the mediator to confirm that it is in line with the court bracket and will be set out either as a letter for the clients to take to their solicitors or alternatively as a memorandum of understanding
- the couple' solicitors will check the negotiated settlement and, if happy with it, draft a consent order and submit it to the court — the court will be told in a joint narrative letter that the agreement reached was viamediation
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