Assessing the march of mediation in Family Dispute Resolution Week 2014

Assessing the march of mediation in Family Dispute Resolution Week 2014

Guest blogger Suzanne Kingston, partner at Withers, examines DR options and progress so far in promoting non-court dispute resolution.

We have been celebrating Family Dispute Resolution Week since Monday, and dispute resolution practitioners have been marking the annual event with a series of activities around the country, overseen by the umbrella organisation for family lawyers, Resolution.  Family DR Week is aimed at raising awareness of the alternative ways that family disputes can be resolved, other than through contentious and costly litigation in the courts.

Various dispute resolution methods have been available for many years, but their prominence of mediation has come to the fore in recent years.  This follows the government’s promotion of non-court options for resolving family disputes, heralded by the introduction, in 2011, of Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) to provide couples seeking to commence family litigation through the courts with information on the alternatives.

There is now a wealth of cogent, non-court options to explore:

  • Mediation: couples meet together, aided by the neutral input and guidance of a Mediator to talk through issues and work towards agreeing common ground.  The Mediator will provide general legal information and helps the parties reach consensus and it is normally helpful for the parties to have some legal advice in parallel with the process.  Arriving at a negotiated agreement that both parties can live with has huge benefits for ongoing relationships – which is often the reality where children are involved.  There are many other benefits; it can produce a quick resolution and it is also considered to be cheaper than the legal process.
  • Collaborative law: each party appoints independent legal advisers to participate in four-way negotiations.  The legal advisers and the couple sign an agreement at the start committing to resolve issues wi

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