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Child Custody Mediation: Can mediation resolve ‘child custody’ issues?

In the right circumstances, mediation can be extremely helpful in assisting parents to agree arrangements for their children after they separate. Where parents are unable to agree the arrangements between themselves mediation can help to resolve this. The mediator is a trained independent third party who meets with both parents and seeks to assist them to reach an outcome with which they are both happy.

Many separating or separated parents find that mediation is less stressful, less expensive and quicker than going to court. Mediation can also empower parents to make measured decisions in a more conflict free setting.

Do you need to a solicitor for mediation?

Parents do not need to have a solicitor to engage in mediation and mediation most commonly takes place with only the parents and the mediator being present. It is, however, also possible for mediation to take place with the separating parents’ solicitors also present (this is called solicitor-led mediation).

Even when separating parents attend mediation without their solicitors it is very common for them to have legal advice in the background and between mediation sessions. If affordable, it is a good idea to obtain legal advice from a solicitor alongside mediation. Parents who have a full understanding as to the law and the likely outcomes a court would make are in a much stronger position to negotiate child arrangements.

What if mediation fails?

If separating parents are unable to agree the arrangements for their child(ren) in mediation, there are other ways to resolve children disputes. These include trying to negotiate an agreement through solicitors, issuing an application to the court or arbitration.

Do you need to see a mediator before making an application to court?

Whilst it is not mandatory to mediate before making an application to court to determine the child arrangements, parents are usually required to attend what is known as a “Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting” (a MIAM) before they are able to make an application to court.

The purpose of a MIAM is to make sure that parents are made aware of and are able to consider alternative methods of resolving their disputes before making an application to the court.

The requirement to attend a MIAM is subject to an important caveat: there is no requirement to attend a MIAM in circumstances where to do so would not be safe (such as where domestic abuse is an issue) or where an application needs to be made urgently.

For more information on the issues raised in this blog please do not hesitate to contact one of the team at Rayden Solicitors.

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