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At LGFL, we have long used mediation to help separating couples come to an agreement, but the traditional format didn’t suit everyone.

So, we’re delighted to announce that LGFL Director Anne Leiper has just qualified as a Resolution Hybrid Mediator. In her new role, she’ll be able to better help separating couples settle their issues without having to go to court, saving them time, money and stress.

Mediation isn’t just for separating spouses, as Anne explains:

“Hybrid mediation is suitable for any family dispute, whether concerning child arrangement, co-parenting, cohabitation disputes and almost any family law issue that requires the two sides to come to an agreement.”

 

Standard and hybrid mediation

In a standard mediation, a couple sit down in a room with a mediator and work through their differences. In hybrid mediation, couples spend part of the process in separate rooms with their own legal teams, who are there to support and advise them.

Anne has been a highly successful mediator for many years, and sees hybrid mediation as a more progressive, practical, and effective way forward.

“Couples come to us as family lawyers because they disagree on key issues when they separate, such as who lives in the family home, who looks after the children, and how the finances are divided. They may see court as the only way to resolve their differences - and that can be expensive, time-consuming, stressful and not always result in the outcome they want.

Hybrid mediation can help them to come to an agreement outside of court, which can be faster, less confrontational and saving both time and money on legal fees.”

At LGFL, we have a range of meeting spaces available at our offices. So we can offer hybrid mediation at very reasonable rates, at our discreet location just outside Reading.

 

Resolution Hybrid Mediation

Anne joins a select group of Hybrid Mediators trained by the Resolution organisation. Both our Directors here at LGFL are long-standing members of Resolution, whose members are committed to keeping issues that arise between couples on a relationship breakdown out of court.

The hybrid mediation process allows each person to have their own legal team, advisors and experts on hand to advise them and support their clients to negotiate an agreement. Anne’s role as the mediator is to “shuttle” between each team and discuss various options. This may also involve group meetings until a mutually acceptable agreement is reached

As Anne says, she often is “holding confidences”, but she doesn’t represent either side.

“As the mediator, I’m always a neutral third party. I can explain legal terms and inform both parties, but I won’t give them advice. That’s the legal team’s job. I’m there to explore solutions with the couple and empower them to make key decisions and agreements that both sides are willing to sign up to.”

 

Binding and lasting agreements

Hybrid mediation also allows couples to reach binding and lasting agreements more quickly. Mediation can take place over the course of a day, rather than separate shorter sessions. Anne finds that the best results come from a dedicated day of mediation.

“A full day is so more effective since both parties and their lawyers can focus and explore options without needing to “go away and think about it”. So often when that happens, the focus is lost on what is important and one side starts to back down on what was already agreed. This slows down the process, which in turn can have a major impact on those often stuck in the middle of warring parents, namely their children.”

Anne encourages anyone struggling to come to an agreement to try hybrid mediation here at LGFL.

“Any method that reduces conflict, creates agreements, and avoid the costs and lengthy delays of court appearances is certainly worth a few hours of anyone’s time.”

 

Considering getting divorced?

Talking to us first before applying online or similar can help put your situation into perspective. We offer a 1 hour reduced fee consultation to discuss your specific circumstances and concerns. We aim to give you tailored legal advice and information, so you can proceed in the best way for you, your children, and your future.

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two doors open for hybrid mediation consultation

Even for the most level-headed of families, complex separations, financial issues and child arrangement disputes can turn ugly remarkably quickly. Fuelled by different viewpoints and strong emotions built up over months or years, you may see court as your only solution when you’re dealing with divorce, separation or family issues.

Whilst mediation has always been available as an option, the relatively new approach of hybrid mediation offers you an effective, efficient and less emotive way to resolve disputes without the need for your “day in court”. LGFL Director and Resolution-trained mediator Anne Leiper explains more.

This week is Family Mediation Week , raising awareness of how mediation can help separating couples create mutually-acceptable solutions to divorce and separation issues. If you and your ex can come to a mutual agreement, you can save considerable time, money and stress for your family and children compared to a long and potentially expensive court battle.

 

The difference between hybrid mediation and standard mediation

  • Standard mediation involves you and your ex sitting in the same room with a mediator to work through your differences. The result should be a proposal to resolve your issues, which you each then take to your solicitor for advice. This can cause further delay.
  • Hybrid mediation differs from standard mediation in that for the majority of the process, both of you are in separate rooms, each with your solicitor. This gives you instant access to legal advice and support when you need it most, not after the event. Your mediator will shuttle between rooms to meet with both parties and find common grounds. There will probably be short joint meetings at the beginning and at the end of the process unless this is unsafe or undesirable.

 

Benefits of hybrid mediation

There are many benefits to hybrid mediation for you as the client:

No need to see your ex face to face

Not everyone can sit down with their ex-partner in the same room for any length of time. Indeed, if there a history of uneven power levels between the couple, coercive control or even domestic violence, this would also not be a safe environment. Hybrid mediation avoids face-to-face confrontation, keeping tempers cool and minds focused.
 

Legal advice on hand throughout

In my experience, the overwhelming benefit of hybrid mediation is having legal advice in the room with you. Unlike standard mediation where the two parties will meet and then go away to consult with their family law solicitor, you can seek specific legal advice as the need comes into play. Clients usually find they have so much more confidence when they have their legal adviser with them.
 

Clear negotiations

You may not realise that even if your case goes to court, there is a lot of ‘corridor negotiations’. This is exactly what it sounds like; two legal teams meeting outside the court to negotiate solutions literally outside the courtroom and during any breaks in the proceedings. Hybrid mediation allows that same level of negotiation but with no time constraints or limited court time.

 

Selective sharing of information

Full disclosure of financial information should be made in hybrid mediation just as you would have to do in court. However, with the two parties in separate rooms, information can be selectively shared. The mediator can be told each party's bottom line position and keep that confidential, or share it if authorised. This is specifically designed to assist and speed up the possible settlement process.

 

Speed

The major benefit of hybrid mediation for many is the speed. Often matters can be resolved in just one day, or for more complex cases, two or three sessions over a couple of months. This is in stark contrast to the 12-18 month timescales of fully contested family law court cases, plus any delays due to the current backlog in family courts. You can also start hybrid mediation as soon as you both want, without needing to wait for a court date.

 

Cost-effective

Hybrid mediation saves time, and in law, time is very definitely money. Apart from reducing the timescales, costs can be saved in ensuring a financial agreement is acceptable to both and won’t be contested. If you and your ex can’t agree on a settlement in court the judge will decide for you, which probably won’t be in anyone’s best interests.
 

Online, flexible meetings

At a time when even if we wanted to meet in the same room we can’t, hybrid mediation really comes into its own. Zoom seems almost designed for hybrid mediation, allowing you, your ex, your mediator and your legal team to be on the same meeting call. Through careful use of the ‘mute’ feature, information can be given in confidence to the mediator to pass on in the manner they think will work best to the other party.
 

Specialist advisors to help you

You can also include third parties in the mediation process, such as pensions or financial advisors. They can provide impartial third party viewpoints, and check that financial agreements are sound, viable and advisable, particularly in complex cases.
 

Mediate anytime

Even if you are already in the middle of court proceedings, you can still use hybrid mediation. Indeed, the courts actively encourage mediation as it results in agreements created through mutual consent, which are far less likely to be contested in the future.
 

Seal the deal there and then

In standard mediation, there will inevitably be a delay while your mediator draws up a Memorandum of Understanding or other summary document. This would then need to be scrutinised by your legal team, resulting in further, ongoing discussions and negotiations. Your ex might also change their mind in the meantime, further mudding the legal waters.

Once you have come to an agreement using hybrid mediation, your solicitor and legal team can draw up your agreements / orders straight away. There’s no waiting for a court ruling or other delays. Once the agreement is drawn up, you can sign it, resolve your issues, and both move on with your lives.
 

Hybrid mediation services from LGFL

As a trained mediator, I firmly believe that hybrid mediation is a positive, dynamic and effective process very much suited to our new virtual age. If you’d like to discuss it and its suitability for your specific requirements and situation, contact us to book your 1-hour initial consultation with 30 minutes free.

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Lockdown has put a great strain on a great many couples. It may have pushed some already strained relationships beyond breaking point and towards separation and divorce.

For many couples, going to court may seem the default pathway ahead, but with long delays and cases being adjourned, is this the best way forward? LGFL Director and experienced mediator Anne Leiper explains how a collaborative law approach to separation can be less stressful, less costly and less time consuming.

Lockdown may be easing, but the backlog of ‘normal’ legal activities delayed by the pandemic is still building. It’s been a time of great uncertainty since the end of March for those looking to divorce. Many courts are still closed, and judges are adjourning hearings without reference to the parties. Even with many hearings taking place remotely via video conferencing, there are still potentially weeks or months of delays ahead.

 

Why choose collaborative law

Collaborative law offers an alternative to the uncertainty of when, and indeed how, a family court will deal with your divorce. Instead, collaborative law brings together both parties and their legal team outside of the court jurisdiction, to settle the financial claims arising as a result of your divorce or separation.

Collaborative law via video conferencing

Collaborative law through remote video meetings works especially well, as it provides a route for your meetings to occur safely. Crucially, the collaborative process will mean that there is no delay and no court-imposed time limits. You have complete control over the timing and duration of the meetings, and you are not going to be limited by the judge’s time and availability on the day.

At LGFL, we have conducted meetings using all of the most popular video apps with great success, including Zoom, MS Teams, Skype and Lifesize (a common app for court hearings too). We will deal with all the technical side of connecting, so you can just log in at the specific time with us alongside you in the virtual space.

 

The downside of remote court hearings

The difficulty with remote court hearings is that we have lost that flexibility of being in the court building, and able to negotiate outside of the courtroom. In a remote court hearing, there will be a fixed time only due to the judge’s availability, and no allowance for that “court corridor” time to negotiate.

This is why in these days of remote hearing as the default option, the collaborative approach comes into its own. As a team, we can “meet” with your spouse and their team to negotiate a financial solution, without the need for a court hearing.

Where needed, you can bring in experts to give you the pensions and financial advice you may require. As your legal team, we can advise on legal matters and facilitate the meetings, moving the process forward at the pace you are happy with.

At the moment, we cannot predict how long delays may be. However, given the accumulated backlog, delays could be quite considerable for several months yet. Collaborative law allows both the parties to keep control of their cases, which is a much less stressful situation than waiting on a court date only to find it’s been adjourned.

 

Book a 1 hour consultation with 30 minutes free to discuss your unique circumstances, or see our Collaborative Law page for more details.

Mediation post lockdown

Mediation is another way for your and your spouse to avoid court hearings ad resolve family law issues between yourselves. We’ve been offering mediation services at LGFL for years, and the only thing the pandemic has really altered is that now it’s conducted online rather than in a neutral space such as our offices. We’ve also adapted our own procedure for remote mediations and mediation agreements accordingly.

Professional mediation can help sort out family law disputes between you and your partner. With the help of your independent mediator, you can create child and family solutions without the need for court proceedings.

In my experience, mediation via video platforms such as Zoom actively removes obstacles to communication rather than the other way around. Many clients actually prefer this online mediation, as they no longer have to sit in the same room as their partner, and find it easier to talk as a result. Each party can feel safe in their individual physical space, and often are more ready to listen and come to an agreement as a result.

 

Why choose mediation?

Mediation puts you much more in control than litigation. Mediation gives you the space to discuss the important issues around your marriage or relationship breakdown, such as:

  • Child arrangements
  • Financial settlements
  • Co-parenting
  • Immediate living arrangements

The neutral online space and the presence of an impartial mediator enables you to sit back and listen. So, you hear the other party's point of view. You each understand where the other is coming from. This can lead to much better, longer-lasting relationships between the two of you, especially important for those wanting to co-parent in the future.

To discuss your own particular situation, call us and book a 1-hour consultation with 30 minutes free. Or see our Collaborative Law page for more details.

 

Why choose LGFL mediation?

In the case of mediation services from LGFL, you have the added advantage of your mediator, myself, also being an experienced family lawyer. My role as a mediator is neutral. I don’t (and indeed cannot) represent any party involved. Instead, I’m a facilitator to help you and your former partner have those discussions directly between you, in a safe environment.

 

Four key benefits of mediation

  • Mediation can break the deadlock between you and your partner if you’re struggling to agree on any or all aspects of your separation.
  • Mediation can also build stronger relationships between you, especially important for your future roles as co-parents. Stronger relationships can also make life so much easier at those important future family events that are going to inevitably come up; weddings, christenings, and graduations.
  • Mediation strengthens any agreements you make. An agreement that you reach together is much stronger than one imposed by a court. I think this is because mediation is a much less destructive process than litigation, and based on agreement not blame
  • Mediation bypasses the need to go to court in order to achieve resolution. If you want to resolve your relationship breakdown in a reasonable timeframe and with less stress for you and your family, mediation could be the answer.

 

LGFL offer a 1 hour online consultation with 30 minutes free to discuss your unique circumstances – call us to book yours without delay.

The new series of “I’m a Celebrity” starts on Sunday 17th November, and the hype is in full swing. TV trailers are currently showing co-presenters Ant and Dec travelling in a boat to try and reach Australia. It’s also choppy waters at the moment for Ant McPartlin’s personal life. He is reportedly setting up meditation talks to reach a divorce settlement with ex-wife Lisa Armstrong, a professional make-up artist.

The move to mediation appears to be an attempt by McPartlin to get the financial settlement agreed before the start of “I’m A Celebrity”, according to reports in The Sun and The Mirror. The ex-couple have been so far unable to agree over a £62million settlement, and arbitration talks last month failed to get the matter resolved.

Lisa Armstrong is reported as resisting pressure to accept a settlement that she does not agree with, and has also resisted signing a non-disclosure agreement. The pair also needs to agree on custody of their chocolate Labrador Hurley, which currently spends alternate weeks with each of them. (Not unusual - see our article on “Who gets the dog”)

It is hoped that mediation talks will succeed where arbitration failed, and prevent the case being returned back to the High Court, with all the ensuing publicity and media scrutiny that would attract. The protracted legal process has also cost the couple at least £1million.

At LGFL, we have seen first-hand the positive outcomes from our own mediation sessions for clients. Professional mediation helps resolve differences between partners, and smooth the way for agreeing child and family arrangements outside of a court room. Our mediation services can be a quick, cost-effective and (above all) a constructive method of reaching an agreement between all parties.

Director Anne Leiper is a trained mediator and member of Resolution. She acts as an independent mediator, to help partners discuss important issues such as child arrangement and financial settlements. Both parties can then take the outcome of mediated discussions to their own solicitor for independent legal advice. Our mediation service is completely independent, so we do not offer mediation for any clients either Anne or Rita represent.

Mediation can be effective at any point in a relationship breakdown:

  • During separation
  • Whether court proceedings have commenced or not
  • At any time during those court processes

Anne is also keen to point out the additional benefits of mediation that couples may overlook:

  • If you undertake mediation at the beginning of a case you can work to avoid court costs.
  • You can also avoid being adjourned off if you have not mediated.
  • Any proposals are in both parties’ control. It is their process
  • Mediation can minimise long term family relationship damage. So, parents can continue to co-parent or co-dog own together.

So, if Ant and Lisa wish to use an independent, experienced mediator based in discreet dog-friendly offices just outside Reading, we’ll be happy to help!

 

Anne explains how mediation can help resolve your family law disputes in a safe environment.

 

Mediation is a way of resolving family law disputes between yourself and your former partner.

My role as a mediator is neutral. I'm a facilitator to help you and your former partner have those discussions directly between you, in a safe environment to do so.

It's a process whereby you each listen to each other and you hear the other party's point of view. Consequently, that can be very powerful and lead to much better, longer-lasting relationships between the two of you. You each understand where the other is coming from.

The advantages of mediation, therefore, are not limited to, but can include...

  • Stronger relationships. So, it's much easier for those important future family events that are gonna inevitably come up, weddings, christenings, graduations.
  • An agreement that you reach together is much stronger than one imposed by a court.
  • Mediation is a much less destructive process than litigation.
  • Third parties can be brought in if necessary and needed, such as financial advisors to assist in the process.
  • Finally, it can be cheaper and quicker than court proceedings.

 

If you think this is a process that can help you and your family, then please do give us a call.

New figures from National Family Mediation show that a shocking 95% of separating couples are bypassing compulsory mediation meetings and heading straight to court. LGFL Partner Anne Leiper discusses why this is not only illegal, but also a lost opportunity.

 

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In his Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne has announced the logistics of budget cuts at the Ministry of Justice, including court closures, reductions in the number of judges, and a move towards digitisation of procedures.

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