Gaining an understanding of the steps involved in divorce and separation

Are you currently going through a divorce or separation, or are you thinking about doing so?

Do you have any queries regarding the procedure, as well as how the disagreement should ideally be resolved?

Going through a divorce or separation can be a painful and emotionally trying period, it may be challenging to know how to approach problems in the most effective way. For this reason, we have created a helpful marital and separation advice, which has been updated to include recent changes to the law including the introduction of the new “no fault divorce” on April 6th 2022, in order to assist and support you.

The Process of Divorce Mediation

Find out more about how to approach your divorce and separation with our friendly and competent mediation that is meant to cover a number of concerns like the dealing with financial arrangements and children.

Investigating what goes into the mediation process will help you decide whether or not it’s the best course of action for you. Check out Family Mediation Essex for more information. 

Do I have to come to mediation?

Mediation is typically the first step in the process that is taken when a couple is going through a divorce or separation and they are unable to reach an agreement with one another on financial matters or parenting plans for their children. But what if your former partner decides not to show up?

When it comes to divorce and legal separation, the courts strongly favour the parties being amicable and working out their differences on their own. If they are unable to come to an agreement on how to resolve the conflict, then you are often obligated by law to pursue family mediation before the court will allow litigation to proceed. Instead of having issues imposed upon you by the court, a neutral mediator will collaborate with you both and assist you come to an agreement on them. This is preferable to the alternative, which is having issues imposed upon you by the court.

Information and Assessment Meetings Regarding Mediation

Even though participation in mediation is voluntary, parties are often required to at least investigate the possibility of participating in the process before they may file a lawsuit. A Mediation Information Assessment Meeting, also known as an MIAM, is how this is carried out. The mediator will walk you through the process and evaluate whether or not mediation is the best course of action given your circumstances. Exemptions from the obligation to attend an MIAM can be granted for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • In cases where there are worries about the safety of children;
  • In cases where there is an inquiry into alleged domestic abuse.
  • In the event that one of the parties cannot be reached.
  • In the event that one of the parties does not reside in either England or Wales
  • In cases when one of the parties is incarcerated.
  • When there are no available mediators within a 15-mile radius and within 15 working days in the immediate vicinity of the conflict.

Concerns that can be addressed through the process of mediation

During the mediation session, you and your ex are free to discuss any issues that arise concerning the finances of your household or the care of your children. The following are topics that regularly come up in conversation: 

  • Who the children will be living with.
  • What kind of visitation schedule will they have with the other parent?
  • A plan for how they will maintain communication with their parents when they are separated from one another.
  • Who else they will or will not see in the future.
  • How much money will be paid each month as a form of child support.
  • Who will be responsible for paying the children’s additional costs, such as those associated with their uniforms, extracurricular activities, and trips?
  • What are the plans for the residence of the family?
  • The manner in which other assets will be distributed.

What consequences will result from the parties’ failure to appear at the mediation?

The courts believe that mediation is often constructive and helpful to families in the process of putting together plans for the future that are both practical and equitable. Both the government and research agree that this is the superior approach; as a result, the Ministry of Justice has just launched the Family Mediation Scheme, under which they would contribute up to £500 toward the expenses of mediation. Because of this, it is possible that the expenses of the mediation process will be reimbursed in full if at least one of the parties is qualified for legal aid. This helps to remove one impediment in the process, which was previously the inability to afford it. 

If your spouse or partner does not show up to the hearing, the court may conclude that this is not helpful to the process and that there was not a reasonable endeavour made to put the needs of the children first. They also have the ability to direct mediation to take place if they believe it is necessary at that point.  

The behaviour of the parties before, during, and after the proceedings might be taken into consideration by the court for determining who is responsible for paying the legal fees. It is likely that one’s inability to participate by appearing at the mediation session might be interpreted as unfavourable behaviour on one’s part.

On the other hand, if mediation is not sought, it is possible that it may take a longer amount of time to address issues pertaining to the children and the money. If a dispute over financial matters goes to court, resolving such concerns is also likely to take a significant amount of time. In general, the court will first need to have an evaluation of the family situation performed before making a judgement regarding the arrangements for the children.

It is often helpful to “sell” the benefits of the process to your ex in order for them to engage once the conciliator sends them a formal offer to meet themselves. If you are able to meet with a mediator during an MIAMs meeting in order to understand more about the process yourself, this often helps to “sell” the process.