If you are involved in a dispute regarding a child there are a number of options you can consider. One of these is Family Mediation, which aims to help families and former partners resolve conflict surrounding children.
Arguments about when you can see a child or whether another person should see your child or a child in your care are distressing for all those involved.
You might think that the only solution is to take the matter to court and be involved in that process. That is certainly an option available to you; however, if you are going to apply for legal aid the Scottish Legal Aid Board will expect you to have exhausted all other avenues before they grant you legal aid to raise a court action. The other point to bear in mind is that court actions generally take months to complete and mediation may be able to resolve your problems in much shorter period of time.
Family Mediation is undertaken by a trained mediator who is able to meet with both you and the other party to talk about issues concerning contact. The mediator won’t take sides and won’t judge any of the people or issues involved but they will provide a safe environment for you to talk about problems with contact. They can encourage communication and provide a forum to talk which can help you and the other party to be able to resolve differences about the child.
Family mediation isn’t just for parents and the mediator can meet with grandparents, other family members or even with older children in order to try and help everyone reach agreement as to what is best for the child involved.
The mediation process is confidential and matters discussed cannot be brought into any court action unless the safety of a child is at risk. The Sheriff in a court action can also encourage parties to go to mediation or can even order the parties to attend if he/she considers it appropriate to do so.
The aim of mediation is to encourage all parties to put the needs of the child first and to try and see if any solution can be found.
At an initial meeting, you will be invited to share your concerns and discuss the next steps in confidence. If you want to go ahead, a mediator will meet the parties involved, usually three or four times, and each person will be able to talk about their concerns.
Mediation doesn’t always work but in most cases it can offer a workable solution.
There is a charge for attending at mediation but Advice and Assistance can cover your costs if you are in receipt of benefit or have a lower income. Our solicitors in the Family Team are able to discuss the assistance available as well as the other options should mediation not be suitable for you.