Much is said about a conflict of interests between family law solicitors and family mediators.This guest blog looks at this relationship from a different perspective and that is simply maximising the cost benefit for the client.
At Green Light Mediation we work with clients whose wish for involvement from solicitors is very varied. Some come to us adamant that they want to handle all aspects themselves including the completion of court forms through mediation. The other end of the spectrum is those who wish to negotiate most matters through solicitors but need to iron out a particular sticking point in mediation to avoid an escalation to court. The majority seem to lie between the two and this blog explores how these can and do work in practice.
It is our view that co-mediation, as encouraged as a model by The Family Mediators Association is the most successful model and the model we usually use. For our example we will use Mr and Mrs P.
Mr and Mrs P. both agreed to mediate, had separate Miams (Mediation and Information Assessment) meetings and then began mediation. At the first session they were given financial form E’s to complete (this is a long form which will set out the financial position of each person) and were able to email any questions about form filling between the first and second session, exchange Form E’s at the second session with copies for the mediators. Therefore, by the second session each client had completed and exchanged form E, been assessed for legal funding, met and begun a division of assets and neither had spent more than £200!
At the second session an issue became apparent and both Mr and Mrs P were advised to seek independent legal advice from a solicitor. Neither had legal representation and asked if we could recommend a local firm. We offered names of some local firms sympathetic to mediation.Both Mr and Mrs P paid for a meeting with their respective solicitors before the third mediation session and were then sufficiently informed to negotiate at the third session.They also completed a petition for divorce at the end of the third session. The fourth session completed the financial negotiations and an agreement in principle had been reached. Both returned to their respective solicitors for a short meeting to discuss the proposals before a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) and Open Financial Summary (“OFS”) was drawn up. Additionally solicitor assistance was used for the next stage of the divorce.
Mr and Mrs P both emailed the mediators following a further meeting with their respective solicitors to discuss the proposed settlement and asked the mediators to go ahead and draw up documents.The MOU and OFS were then signed and Mrs P’s solicitor drafted the Consent Order (a document which records the terms agreed) which was sent to Mr P’s solicitor for agreement. The order was then sent to court for approval and Decree Absolute subsequently applied for.
Overall timescales and costs for Mr and Mrs P were reduced considerably as the solicitors and mediators both fulfilled a distinct role for the benefit of the client. Clients can work through a number of disputed areas in mediation at relatively low cost whilst the whole process feels joined up and consistent in terms of support rather than undermined with a totally different perspective. At Green Light Mediation we believe this kind of client focused approach is the best way forward and work with like-minded solicitors to offer a joined up service for the benefit of clients.
We offer this type of joined up service with Law House Solicitor Karen Weiner. If you wish to find out more about award winning Green Light Mediation please see www.greenlightmediation.co.uk or call us on 01442 50005. For legal advice contact Karen Weiner at The Law House at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring her on 01923 521003.