We are members of Resolution which is the leading organisation for family solicitors. We abide by the Resolution Code of Practice.
For some couples mediation can be a good process. A mediator tries to help a couple reach their own agreement over issues concerning children or finances or both. Where someone wishes to file an application to the court they will usually have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). At any stage of a case the Court can suggest the parties attend mediation and can adjourn the case for this to happen.
When a mediator is trying to help resolve the financial aspects of a separation, the couple will first need to give full disclosure of their financial position to the mediator. If they reach an agreement this will have been achieved ‘without prejudice’ (off the record). The mediator will then advise them to seek independent advice from their own solicitors. Should their solicitors advise that the agreement is fair then the parties will usually apply to the Court for a consent financial order. Solicitors do not always advise that the proposed agreement is fair. It is therefore usually best to consult your solicitor as the mediation process progresses.
In many cases mediation may be unnecessary because agreement can be reached quite easily without it once the parties have exchanged financial disclosure through their solicitors and have then gone on to make offers, which in turn quickly leads to a negotiated settlement.
Some people find mediation a slow and expensive process and it can be unsatisfactory if one party is much more confident than the other in dealing with the issues or if one party sees mediation as an opportunity to bully the other.
Our experience is that mediation is often a good process for problems over the arrangements for the children as it is a forum for the parents to communicate with one another.
Over recent years the police have come to take this issue far more seriously than they used to do. They are now much more likely to intervene and, in appropriate cases, they will prosecute.
The Family Courts have the power to make injunction orders which can be non-molestation orders or occupation orders. A non-molestation order typically forbids someone from assaulting or harassing a family member. Under an occupation order someone may be excluded from their home and from the local area within a certain radius of it. If someone breaches the terms of an injunction order the police may prosecute this as a criminal offence.
If someone behaves aggressively towards you it is important to take legal advice immediately afterwards. Perhaps a strongly worded letter will be a sufficient ‘shot across the bows’ and there will be no repetition of the behaviour complained of. In more serious cases an application will need to be made for an injunction and this can be done as a matter of great urgency where necessary; you can even see a Judge and ask for an interim order without informing the other party that you are doing so.
Some people see it as an important part of ‘leaving the past behind them’ to change their name. It is a simple process but where children are concerned the consent of both parents is required. We can prepare a simple Change of Name Deed for you.