Given the current and deepening cost of living crisis, almost every family in Scotland is looking at ways to reduce their monthly outgoings. However, for families who are considering or going through a separation, the situation could be even more bleak. They face the triple whammy of working out a way to run two households instead of one, rising monthly costs and the added burden of meeting the legal costs of a divorce. On that basis, many families would be well advised to consider mediation as a way of resolving childcare and financial issues.
What is family mediation?
Family mediation is a process which allows both parties to have a direct conversation with one another under the guidance of a trained family mediator. The mediator is a highly skilled family lawyer whose position is neutral and who will support the discussions between you. It is usually a much cheaper option than arguing it out between lawyers or at worst in court.
The cost of going to court in a divorce or separation
Most parties to a court action find it a bruising process both financially and emotionally. It is very difficult to predict the cost or indeed outcome of a court action. Inevitably, it costs more than the parties hoped and often both feel dissatisfied with the outcome. The court process can involve lengthy delays and hearings being discharged at the last minute. Crucially important issues such as how much time you spend with your children is decided in a relatively short period of time by a judge who has never met your children.
How does mediation help in a family law case?
Mediation is different. The mediator is impartial and will not take sides but can help guide discussions and keep dialogue respectful and focused. Their aim is to assist you in exploring all options for resolving the issues in dispute so that you have the best chance of reaching an amicable agreement.
The cost of mediation in a divorce or separation
The cost of family mediation will depend upon the complexity of the issue being mediated and the willingness of both parties to the mediation to approach matters constructively. A consensus can sometimes be reached quickly at mediation and a resolution is usually found far more quickly than in a litigation which can take over a year. Matters can sometimes be agreed within the first couple of sessions. The benefit of family mediation is that the costs are transparent from the outset and you and your ex-partner are directly involved in the decision making process. As only the mediator is present during the mediation session, you only have the cost of one lawyer. This cost is often split equally between the parties, however, you can choose to split the cost in any way that you wish.
Both parties are entitled and indeed encouraged to engage their own lawyer and to seek legal advice while mediation is ongoing. If you are able to agree matters at mediation, your lawyer will then be able to prepare a legally binding agreement which reflects what has been agreed.
Why mediation generally costs less in a family law case
Reaching agreement at mediation generally costs a fraction of what a defended court action would. At a time when family budgets are being squeezed, that is particularly important. An expensive court action could negatively impact upon your ability to retain the family home or purchase a new property.
What about the emotional cost?
However, what is equally important is that the emotional cost of mediation is far less than an acrimonious court action where in order to "win" you enter an adversarial process where parties take opposing and extreme positions in Court which inevitably damage your relationship with one another irretrievably going forward.
Fixed-fee mediation package
If you are interested in finding out more about mediation or booking an appointment, please get in touch with us. We have several accredited mediators in our team and offer a fixed-fee mediation package including intake session, mediation sessions, as well as a comprehensive mediation summary. Get in touch to find out more details.