Mediation is on the rise, but is mediation right for me?

May 15th 2024

With the recent amendments to the Family Procedure Rules (FPR) on 29 April 2024, mediation is on the rise. The recent changes to the FPR have been made in an attempt to try and promote out of court discussions between couples, in the hope that couples are able to reach an outcome regarding their children, or finances, without having to seek the assistance of the court after separation. 

How do the FPR changes impact me?

If you make the difficult decision to make an application to the court to assist with disagreements about the arrangements for your children, or how to separate your finances, you will now need to fill out a form setting out your views regarding Non-Court Dispute Resolution (NCDR). NCDR does not include just mediation, it can also include other options such as collaborative law, arbitration and private out of court hearings, which mirrors the court process outside of a court setting. 

The reason for the compulsory additional step, is to ensure that NCDR has been considered, which means that failure to engage in NCDR, without a valid reason, may lead to the court considering whether a costs order should be made. A Judge may also make the decision to postpone the proceedings if they consider NCDR may be a more appropriate way of dealing with matters. 

Should I consider NCDR?

Given the recent changes to the FPR, you will need to provide genuine reasons for not engaging in a form of NCDR, for example, if there has been domestic abuse. 

If you are unsure as to what type of NCDR may be right for you, a mediator is able to outline all the options in a meeting called a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (also referred to as a MIAM), or alternatively, you are able to speak with a solicitor about the options that may be right for your circumstances. 

If you have any questions about NCDR, and want to understand more about your options, feel free to contact me, Monicka Rai, as SE-Solicitors Mediator, or any of our solicitors in the family team. To read more about our Mediation Services, visit here.