Question

Hybrid Family Mediation

Our solicitors have already failed to settle our case, we think we have to go to trial now - is mediation appropriate?

Solicitors negotiate via positional bargaining.  The fact is, many cases do settle in mediation, even when you and your solicitors are stuck.  Trials are very expensive - you can usually double your costs at the Finance Dispute Resolution point (about half-way) if you go to trial.  The costs of that often exceed the difference between you so you have everything to gain by mediating.  With hybrid family mediation, your solicitor can come with you and make your agreement binding on the day in a Consent Order.

 

I've not heard of hybrid mediation - what is it?

Hybrid mediation uses the commercial model of mediation for family cases, to get a binding agreement in a day's mediation.  You come with your lawyer and it brings a speedy end to litigation or avoids it altogether.  The lawyers draw up a binding agreement on the day, whereas in family mediation there is a series of sessions over a period of time and the mediators draws up a non-binding agreement, which your lawyers make binding for you afterwards.

 

Does the Judge still have to approve our mediated settlement?

Not if the agreement does not require an order for you to implement it - for example your arrangements for children.  If you are married and you have a financial agreement, it should be made binding in a court order on divorce.  The District Judge will scrutinise your agreement carefully to ensure it comes within the court's discretionary goalposts.  In some circumstances, the Judge can reject agreements they think are unfair.  At the end of your family mediation, your solicitors can make your mediated Memorandum of Understanding binding in a court order, if needed.