Do we have to try mediation before applying for a divorce?
I had a call from a lady yesterday asking if she needed to attend mediation before applying for her divorce. Although there is not a legal requirement to try mediation or counselling, they can be extremely beneficial.
The benefits of counselling
Emotionally preparing yourself is an important but often overlooked part of the divorce process. Counselling services can help as they tend to focus on the emotional side of a separation. This can be particularly useful when only one partner wants a divorce as it helps both spouses understand each other’s current position.
The specifics of every divorce is unique, but we all tend to go through the same process when faced with any change. The Change Curve model describes the stages most people go through as they adjust to change.
When a change first happens, people’s initial reaction tends to be shock or denial. Eventually, people stop focusing on what they have lost, and they start to let go and accept the changes. They begin testing and exploring what the changes mean and how they must adapt.
At this point, you and your spouse can move forward with your divorce with the least amount of friction. If its too early you can find yourselves falling back into conflict.
By helping you understand each other’s feelings, counselling can take some of the conflict out of the separation, making it easier to negotiate an agreement. And in some cases, by identifying the underlying problems, counselling can encourage you both to give the marriage a second chance.
The benefits of mediation
Divorcing couples are usually expected to consider mediation before starting court proceedings. This involves having a ‘Mediation information and assessment meeting’ (MIAM) to help you understand the process and see if it works for your particular situation.
The MIAM will last about an hour, and you will have the opportunity to tell the mediator about your situation. The mediator will tell you about the mediation process and other options for reaching agreements.
At the end of the meeting, the mediator will tell you whether your case is suitable for mediation, and you can decide whether you want to proceed with mediation.
Do I need to attend a MIAM?
If you want to take your case to court, then, in most cases, you will have to attend a MIAM before making an application. There are only a few specific circumstances where this requirement does not apply which mainly involving domestic abuse. The legal system wants court only to be used as a last resort when all other options have not worked out. The MAIM process was introduced to stop legal costs from spiralling out of control as overzealous solicitors when to battle on behalf of their clients.
Mediation involves a skilled mediator helping you and your spouse negotiate an agreement on financial arrangements and childcare issues. An experienced mediator can help you work together to reach an agreement that you both feel is fair. This is a far less confrontational approach than communicating through solicitors and tends to help reduce your divorce costs over the long run.
Do I need to use counselling or mediation services?
While mediation and counselling are not necessary before applying or during the divorce process, they can be extremely helpful. The easiest and most low-cost divorce is when both partners agree on getting a divorce. Counselling can help couples reach this decision, which is particularly useful if one spouse is further along in the process and has come to terms with divorce compared to the spouse who has recently found out that they are facing divorce.
Trying to force a divorce through, when your partner is at the denial stage can be counterproductive, but counselling can help speed the journey up along the change curve.
Going to court, whether over children or finances should always be a last resort. Easy Online Divorce was created to keep conflict as low as possible because high conflict situations equal high legal costs. We don’t want to see couples burn their hard-earned cash on solicitors and court costs when it can be put to better use elsewhere.
The best way for the divorcing couples to work it out their issues is between themselves. But sometimes, especially in the early stages of divorce when emotions are raw, this can be hard. The traditional wisdom has been to get lawyered up and dive into a protracted and expensive legal battle. But this conventional wisdom is wrong.
In the majority of cases, it isn’t necessary to through good money at a solicitor. A better alternative would be mediation. Mediators are highly skilled at diffusing situations to help couples find agreement. Solicitors, on the other hand, are highly skilled at winning a disagreement. But where there is a winner, there is always have a loser. And like a casino, the solicitors firm always wins.
If you or your partner are struggling to come to terms with your divorce, or if you need a practical solution to help you reach an agreement or resolve a dispute, counselling or mediation could be right for you. We have teamed up with our friends at the Family Mediation and Counselling Services to provide this extra support while we manage your divorce. For more information, schedule a call back below.