How you can shape the outcome of your separation to make the best decisions for your family even if you may all be in different jurisdictions.
What is Mediation?
Mediation offers a neutral environment to discuss issues concerning arrangements for your children and the family’s finances following a decision to separate. We focus on what matters to you both and finding workable solutions for both short term and long term arrangements.
Mediation is a very practical forum. With guidance and support we assist you to generate and explore your options in a creative and cooperative way. Different options can be canvassed and considered to see how they would work in practice on a day to day basis. It provides clarity to your situation and focuses on the future.
Mediation is a voluntary process which the courts in most jurisdictions actively encourage. You and your partner meet together with a family mediator to discuss your issues in a safe and non judgmental environment. The mediator will help you to firstly identify just what those issues are, then guide you towards finding solutions during face-to-face discussions. The offers that are exchanged in the mediation process are “without prejudice” – i.e. they are private and cannot be reported to the Court. The mediator cannot impose a decision on either party. The intention is to encourage openness and a willingness to negotiate, with both parties working towards a settlement
Goals of Mediation
Mediation can be used to reach agreements about arrangements for your children. This can be particularly difficult when you are in an international family and there can often be much traveling by all or just one party. We focus on what is in the children’s best interest and look at various scenario’s as to where the children might live, travel to and from and spend time with their parents. We can consider education and where that should take place and any cultural issues that the family may have.
Financial arrangements can also be reached dealing with assets and businesses that maybe in several different locations.
By conducting an international mediation successfully, you are able to combat the issues that may be facing you in the future. Your case is managed confidentially, quickly, and more economically, which benefits you and your children. If your goal is to maintain privacy and avoid having publicity about your case, then a private process such as mediation is far preferable to court proceedings which can be public.
How International Mediation works
There are many different ways mediation can work. You may can have mediation done over the course of a number of days back to back or spread over a few hours at a time and over several weeks or months. It depends on the individual case and circumstances of the parties involved. You and your partner can attend just yourselves with the mediator or your lawyers can each be present.
Here are two different examples of an international mediation case:
One is where we held a mediation over about four days back to back. The parties lived mainly in London but also spent time in the US. Divorce proceedings had been issued in the US. The parties US lawyers also traveled to London to take part in the mediation. It was a shuttle mediation. Each party had their team in a meeting room and the mediator shuttled back and forth between us putting proposals back and forth. The parties had their benefit of having their lawyers there to get advice as well. During that mediation, the mediator would take just the parties to another room on occasion and have direct communication with them.
Over the period of about four days, we narrowed down the issues and we were able to reach an accord about the division of assets and arrangements for their children. In due course the agreement was drafted into a US court order.
We have also been able to facilitate mediation via video link where the parties and mediator are all in different locations. This has been done over 2 hours time slots over a matter of several months to enable the parties to consider their positions, obtain information and advice. At its conclusion we were able to reach an accord and an agreement was written up and that was actually incorporated into an order in divorce proceedings in England.
Different styles of mediation work for different people and it is about finding the right process for each situation.
Helen Pidgeon is a specialist family law international mediator and lawyer based in London but available worldwide by Zoom or Skype for an international consultation.