Mediation: ways to avoid the stress and lengthy wait for a court hearing

The Government has just announced an extension to the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme. LGFL’s Financial Director Anne Leiper explores what mediation offers those looking to avoid the stress and delays of a court appearance.

The extension to the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme is welcome news to parents who want to resolve family law issues involving children outside of court. If you are eligible, the scheme offers a one-off payment towards the costs of mediation in disputes that involve a child. The extension of the scheme is the government’s way of continuing to encourage people not to go to court and to try mediation instead.

There is a serious issue behind this incentive. To be blunt, the courts are at breaking point, and the system is failing the people it is aiming to serve. Delays caused by the pandemic and other issues mean that return dates are being scheduled now for 2023.

That’s a very long, stressful and potentially expensive wait, with no cast-iron guarantee that the judge will resolve your dispute in a way you both agree with at the end of it all.

Mediation can decrease delay, reduce stress and improve outcomes. You can opt for mediation at any stage, and in a format that suits you. Discussions remain just that, discussions, until agreement is reached. Nothing is binding in mediation until agreed in open correspondence.


The benefits of mediation

Mediation is an effective and dignified way to put your child’s interests first, and avoid the stress, expense and delays involved in going to court.

  • If you go to court, a judge will decide about your child arrangement and financial agreement.
  • In mediation, you can work together with your mediator to sort out and agree on what’s best for you and your family.

Mediation is always client-led, so you can discuss issues that concern you most, at a pace that suits you.


How private mediation works

Mediation gives you more time to negotiate and talk through issues without the pressure of being in a courtroom. It can take place over several meetings and you don’t have to be in the same room. However, it’s important to remember that your mediator is just there to help move things along, not to give legal advice.


You are not alone

Some people are worried that mediation will involve sitting on their own, and having to decide everything there and then. That isn’t the case. With LGFL, you can enter into mediation with the level of advice and support you need to feel confident and informed.

  • You can choose to take part in solicitor-attended mediation. In this process, you are allowed to have your solicitor present during mediation. We find that many clients find it reassuring to have us present in the room, to support them with advice and assist in the negotiations.
  • You don’t have to have a solicitor present. As your family lawyer, we can give you professional advice both before and after your mediation sessions.
  • You can also take part in shuttle mediation if you are concerned about being in the same room together with your former partner.
  • When you reach an agreement with legal advice after the mediation process, we can draw it up into the correct format and submit it to the court for approval and sealing.
  • Filing, approving and sealing a mediated agreement takes the court a matter of a few weeks, rather than the wait for a court date which can be many months ahead.
  • Once it is approved by the Judge, your mediated agreement becomes binding and enforceable. Freed from the stress and emotional upset of a long wait and further legal expenses associated with a court appearance, you and your family can move on with your lives.


Private mediation

Private mediation is an effective way to move forward without any lengthy waiting periods. Mediation takes place on “neutral territory” with everyone in the same room. Or you can opt for “shuttle” mediation if that is more appropriate. With shuttle mediation, you would both be in separate rooms, and your mediator will move between rooms to help you come to an agreement.

If you choose to have your mediation sessions at LGFL, we can also arrange different entry times to our office at Wyvols Court if required. So there is no opportunity to accidently meet your former partner if you don’t wish to.


Why go private?

The Family Mediation Voucher Scheme is only available to eligible cases which follow a particular timetable, and are given on a first come first served basis. Sadly, we believe that even with the extra money made available in June 2022, the number of vouchers available will simply not cover the demand.

  • You can go through the government system to try to get a voucher if you meet the eligibility criteria and there are vouchers available. This will involve a longer wait and will depend on external timescales you cannot control.
  • You can pay for private mediation to resolve the issue and ease the pain of reaching an agreement more quickly and with reduced stress.


Interested in family mediation services?

Contact us to discuss arranging private family mediation or to request our attendance at your mediation sessions:

- Call us

- Email us