Is mediation better than using solicitors?

Often, yes it is.  And that’s not just me as an ex-lawyer/now mediator saying that!  This is why.  
Mediation is quicker; work takes place at a pace that suits you and your family circumstances.
Mediation is less expensive than using solicitors; because you share the costs of one mediator rather than paying for a separate solicitor each and an agreement reached in mediation tends to take less time to get to.
Mediation is more interactive; work is done in sessions together not letters passing to and fro.  This helps make it quicker too, with the added benefit of improving communication and building for the future.
Mediation really works.  If people are willing to be honest in their communications and solution-focused in their approach, mediation is usually better than using solicitors and certainly better than going to court.  

Can I still use mediation if my partner doesn’t want to?

One of the principles of mediation is that it is voluntary.  You may have heard it said that you have to go to mediation before you can go to court.  That is partly true, in that you need to at least explore mediation as an option by attending a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) meeting to see what mediation is about.
If your partner refuses to attend mediation, they can’t be forced to do so and mediation will not progress.  However, this happens infrequently.  Most people want to at least attend the introductory MIAM session to find out more and, once they have, they are convinced enough of its benefits to give mediation a try.  So even if your ex initially says they won’t mediate, it is usually still worth you starting this process and learning more about your choices in the MIAM meeting.

Is mediation safe if my partner is abusive?

Mediation may only take place if it’s safe for everyone involved.  That means mental wellbeing and freedom from verbal abuse as well as protection from physical violence.  The mediator asks everyone who attends a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) about whether there has been any previous abuse in the relationship.  Only if the mediator is satisfied that any abuse is not ongoing and is not putting one person in fear of the other can mediation progress to joint mediation work.
We have ways of managing the impact of being in mediation with someone where there is fear or a history of previous abuse,. This includes shuttle mediation or use of separate breakout rooms in an online mediation environment.  Your mediator will discuss options and practical arrangements with you fully during the MIAM appointment. 

How long does mediation take?

The sessions are approximately as follows: a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) is around 45 minutes with each person (sometimes a little more/less). Mediation work after MIAM is in joint sessions which usually last 2 or 2.5 hours.
The number of joint mediation sessions needed and the frequency these take place is something we will discuss with you.  By way of example, some have a shorter session once a week or fortnight on a regular basis, whereas others might have 2 -3 months between each session while waiting for financial information or trialling arrangements for their children.

Does mediation really work? Would I not be better just going to court?

Well, you will certainly get a decision (judgment) if you go to court.  Only trouble is, you won’t know how much you will be able to influence that and so whether it will be close to the sort of outcome you would want.  And you don’t know how long it will take to get there and how many thousands of pounds each of you will spend in doing so.
Remember the 80s-90s British Telecom  advertising slogan “It’s Good to Talk”? It certainly is and, if there is willingness to attend and openness to consider options, we can mediate in pretty much any situation. You might think you’re totally stuck and each person is very entrenched in their position but the solutions are there and within both of your control. 
Statistics for successful mediation are good.  Family Mediation Council Survey (Autumn 2019) showed that family mediation is successful in over 70% of cases. These success rates are consistent with our own statistics; year on year between 75-78% of our mediations (where both parties engaged) come to a successful, mediated outcome. Or, put another way, for every 4 families who attended mediation, 3 arrived at a mediated agreement. 
There are many reasons why court should be avoided and many reasons why mediation is the way forward.  Check out our testimonials to hear what others say, having worked in mediation with us.