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Mediation for all before divorce?

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Assets, children, money, time and a lot of energy all come into play when someone finally makes the life changing decision to bring a marriage to an end.
The word ‘divorce’ conjures images of stress and conflict, coupled with the fact that many people are unsure about what is involved in going through the process once they have made their mind up.
From April 6th, before issuing legal proceedings through the Court, you will be expected to consider whether your case could be resolved through mediation, and will be obliged to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting before any application to Court can proceed.
The meeting gives you the chance to find out about the mediation process, and sit down with an independent third party in private, who can help go through the options available to resolve matters. The mediator will also discuss with each party whether mediation is suitable for them in their particular circumstances. 
You would need to be open-minded and be willing to listen to your soon to be ex-spouse and vice versa in order to decide how to proceed for the best interests of everyone. This is easier said than done, especially if lack of communication was a factor in your break-up.
The requirement to attend mediation is of course nothing new to a client who is relying on Public Funding to pay for their case. However, from 6th April 2011 this requirement extends to everyone.
As a family law solicitor, I believe it is always better in any dispute to try and resolve the issue as quickly, amicably and as cost effectively as possible, particularly if children are involved. However, it is naïve of the Government to think that mediation will be the panacea for every dispute because if one person wants to obstruct or frustrate the process then unfortunately they can.
There are of course other ways to resolve disputes amicably without Court proceedings being issued other than mediation. These can be through solicitor-led negotiations, by attending round table meetings or by using Collaborative law. 
Our family team is one of the largest in the country, and can advise couples going through a separation and divorce, on the best way to resolve their particular situation.
By family law solicitor, Victoria Melling