Should families try mediation before taking the legal route?

The breakdown of family relationships can be stressful, particularly when it comes to disputes involving children. When parties cannot resolve disagreements on their own, a third party may need to step in. Family mediation provides an alternative to court proceedings and provides many benefits over the legal route.

Here, UK Mediation share their expertise on why families should try mediation before taking the legal route. 

What exactly is mediation? 

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that focuses on negotiation and communication to find mutually agreeable solutions to disputes. 

Both parties play an active role in the process. They are given the opportunity to voice their concerns, suggest possible solutions and negotiate the terms of an agreement. This active participation can help parties feel more invested in the process and increase the likelihood of reaching a mutually satisfactory outcome. 

Success rate of medication 

Family mediation has a high success rate in resolving disputes between parties. In fact, statistics show that over 70% of family mediations result in an agreement that both parties are satisfied with. This success rate is due in part to the fact that mediation allows parties to control the outcome of the dispute, rather than leaving it in the hands of a judge or arbitrator. 

General benefits of mediation 

One of the most significant benefits of mediation is that it aims to find win-win solutions. In other words, the focus is on finding a resolution that benefits both parties rather than a winner-takes-all approach. By exploring various alternatives, parties can find creative solutions that address their underlying concerns and needs while avoiding the cost, time and stress of going to court. 

Benefits of mediation versus going to court 

Mediation provides a confidential and safe environment for parties to explore their issues, free from the adversarial nature of court proceedings. This atmosphere encourages open communication, fosters a deeper understanding of each other’s perspective and can help rebuild relationships that have broken down. As a result, parties are more likely to abide by the terms of the agreement reached during mediation and avoid future disputes. 

On a more practical level, mediation can be much less stressful than going to court because it is faster and more affordable. Mediators are in demand, but it is still much easier to book them than to get court time. Additionally, some mediators may be prepared to work outside office hours and/or remotely. This can be massively more convenient than going to court. 

Family mediation is also a more affordable option than going to court. In court proceedings, there are costs associated with paying for court time, as well as the need for each party to have their own legal representation. This can add a significant expense to the litigation process. In contrast, mediation usually involves a single mediator who works with both parties to find a mutually acceptable resolution.  

Court admissibility 

Mediation is a voluntary process and parties are free to withdraw at any time. In some cases, however, parties may still need to seek court intervention after mediation. For example, if parties are unable to reach an agreement during mediation or if one party breaches the terms of the agreement, court intervention may be necessary. 

Despite this, agreements made during mediation can still be legally enforceable. In the UK, a mediated agreement can be turned into a legally binding agreement, known as a “mediation settlement agreement.” This agreement can be enforced by the court, making it as enforceable as any other court order. 

In addition, demonstrating a willingness to settle disputes amicably through mediation can have a positive impact on court proceedings. In the event that the dispute ends up in court, the judge may consider the parties’ efforts to try to resolve the dispute out of court before resorting to litigation. This can provide evidence to the court that the parties acted in good faith and reasonably to try to resolve the dispute, potentially leading to a more favourable outcome for all parties involved.

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