Amanda Phillips-Wylds is a qualified mediator. In most circumstances she advises clients that it’s likely to be the most cost effective and efficient means to resolve their disputes. So what is family mediation and why does it benefit separating families?

It is conducted by unbiased third party – the mediator The mediator’s job is to facilitate the discussions, help the parties explore all potential options and signpost them where required to sources of professional help, such as legal or financial advice or therapeutic input if of benefit. It is often helpful to families having a third party to facilitate the discussions, as the mediator keeps lines of communication open at a time when they are usually in conflict. The ideal outcome is to separate amicably with your partner, and mediation can be a more constructive route to achieving this.

Both parties are accountable for their decisions As helpful as the mediator is in giving legal information and facilitating discussions, they are not able to make any decisions for the parties and cannot force an outcome on them like a Judge can. The benefit of this is if agreement can be reached that is down to hard work and commitment of the parties.

It can save the parties money Mediation is often cheaper than litigation. It is very important to take legal advice at the end of the process to make sure what you have agreed fair and is made legally binding, but the parties can limit their legal costs by doing the hard work of getting to an agreement during the mediation process. This allows them to preserve monies that may have been spent on legal fees for the benefit of the family and their future.

It is flexible The parties can discuss multiple issues during mediation whether they are to do with finances, children or isolated one off issues which may crop up. However, if in court, they may need to make numerous application to do so.

It is confidential Discussions during mediation are on a ‘without prejudice’. This means if mediation is not successful, what has been discussed cannot be repeated in Court proceedings. As a result, the parties are free to have a completely open and frank discussion about potential settlement options and not fear, as many people do in negotiations that they need to keep their cards close to their chest.

So if you are still not convinced that family mediation is a better alternative to court, consider this:

Family breakdown costs the UK economy £48bn per year[i] a cost to each and every taxpayer of £1,820 a year.

The benefit to ensuring that separating couples have the opportunity to resolve their disputes in the most constructive and conciliatory manner possible does not end with the couple involved.