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Mediation is one form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, that is to say a way of trying to resolve a dispute without going to Court. It is particularly valuable in a family case because it is entirely private, also much less emotionally bruising and usually cheaper than a Court battle. Mediation involves you and your spouse or partner meeting one or more independent professional s who will manage and referee your negotiations, trying to help you reach agreement on all or any of the differences between you: if necessary the mediator(s) will meet you separately although it is preferable for you to attend together.

Ideally you should obtain some basic legal advice before mediation and if the argument is about money or property also exchange financial details: this will save time in the mediation and therefore fees. However, if you prefer the mediator(s) can help you deal with exchanging information and give you a broad and neutral explanation of the relevant law.

The mediator(s) will ask you what each of you wants by way of a solution and will then help you explore ways of trying to get each of you as close as possible to that solution, or perhaps to find other solutions that you can both accept. Sometimes this can be achieved in a single session, but you may need more than one session. The mediator(s) will conduct the process in a way that suits you best and makes you most comfortable. It will be emotionally stressful, and each of you may want to say things to clear the air but the mediator(s) will protect each of you from abuse by the other.

Mediation can only go ahead if you both agree to participate, and can occur at any stage of a dispute. Anyone can terminate the process at any time if no progress is being made. If the mediation is successful, the details are usually recorded in a written agreement or a Court Order made by consent. Child contact and residence are normally dealt with separately from finances.

At Kelly Luft we offer a full legal service on all aspects of family cases through Jason Stanley and Kevin O’Riordan, both highly experienced advocates. In addition we offer mediation with Kevin O’Riordan who is one of the most experienced and successful family (and civil) law mediators on the Island. Additional information is available upon request.

How not to do it….