Why do I Need a Family Law Solicitor AND a Family Mediator?
You may think that if you are separating or getting divorced that you may need a family law solicitor or a family mediator, but not both.
In this article, our family law solicitors look at how family lawyers and mediators work together offering different services that complement one another. Working with a family law solicitor and mediator can help you reach a family law resolution more quickly than starting traditional court proceedings.
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What does a family law solicitor do?
A family law solicitor provides legal advice, mediation support, and court representation in family law-related disputes.
Family law problems cover:
- Initial separation advice – for example, advising if you should leave the family home or as for temporary maintenance
- No-fault divorce proceedings
- Child arrangement order advice and court representation if you can't agree on child custody or contact
- Relocation advice and court orders if one parent wants to move overseas to live taking the children with them and the other parent objects to the children moving abroad
- Injunction advice and court applications where there are allegations of domestic violence and a non-molestation order or occupation order is necessary
- Divorce financial settlement advice, solicitor negotiations, or representation in divorce financial settlement proceedings
- Unmarried partners and property and trust law advice for claims over property
- Child maintenance, child support and payment of private school fees
Family law solicitors can help you resolve family law problems by making an application to the family court or can help you negotiate an agreement with your former spouse or your ex-partner. An agreement can be reached through solicitor negotiations, roundtable meetings, family arbitration, or by your family lawyers providing legal support during and after family mediation sessions.
What does a family mediator do?
A family mediator helps a couple reach an agreement over a family law-related problem. The mediation process is voluntary and a couple can't be forced to mediate if they don’t want to do so or if they, or their family solicitor, don’t think family mediation is appropriate for them. There are a number of reasons why mediation may not be appropriate, such as:
- Domestic violence in the relationship resulting in non-molestation injunction orders or occupation orders, an ongoing fear of domestic abuse, or a power imbalance that can't be addressed through the choice of mediation technique, such as shuttle mediation
- Financial mediation but one party refuses to provide financial disclosure or there is a concern that one party is intending to sell or transfer assets so there is a need to secure a freezing injunction order to stop family assets from being sold or disposed of
- Child custody or contact disputes where there is an immediate risk, such as a threat of child abduction with one parent taking the child overseas without the other parent’s agreement or a court order or where one parent has engaged in parental alienation and there is a history of non-compliance with the mediation process or with court orders
Unlike a family law solicitor, a family mediator is:
- Not on your side – this is because a family mediator is neutral and impartial. That way they can help you both reach a mediated agreement
- Not a legal advisor – the job of a mediator is not to provide family law advice to you but to help you both reach an agreement by exploring your agendas and views
How do family law solicitors and family mediators work together?
A family law solicitor and a mediator work in tandem so you get the support you need to reach an agreement and move on with your life.
The two family law professionals work together by:
- The family law solicitor provides preliminary legal advice on the separation and legal rights in relation to children arrangements or likely financial settlement as well as explaining options to reach an agreement, such as solicitor negotiations, court application, or family mediation
- The family mediator receives a mediation referral and holds a pre-mediation meeting (also called a mediation information and assessment meeting or MIAM) individually with the couple to check that family mediation is appropriate for both of them, to discuss the type of mediation that would best suit them and what they each hope to achieve out of mediation
- The family mediator starts the mediation sessions and in between the sessions the husband and wife take their own independent legal advice from their family law solicitor so they each understand their rights and potential court outcomes if they were to make a court application. That information helps them feel able to make decisions in mediation
- If a mediated agreement can't be reached in mediation the family law solicitor starts court proceedings or explores alternatives to court, such as family arbitration
- If an agreement is reached in mediation, the mediator will prepare a memorandum of understanding for the family law solicitor to advise on.
- Court work - if the mediated agreement is satisfactory the family law solicitor will convert the memorandum into a draft financial court order for approval by the court. Once the court approves the financial court order the family solicitor will implement the order. For example, by sending a pension sharing order to the pension administrator so they can put the pension share into effect
Questions about family mediation support
The family lawyers at OTS Solicitors provide mediation support so you receive the family law legal advice you need prior to, during, and after the completion of family mediation sessions. With our help and guidance, we make sure that you stand the best prospect of reaching a mediated agreement.
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