Do I still need to go to court?
The aim of mediation is to resolve matters without the need to go to court. Mediation has a high success rate of helping separated couples reach an agreement and therefore there would be no need to attend court.
Often in financial matters, as part of a divorce, it will be necessary for solicitors to prepare a document called a Consent Order, which details the agreement you have reached in mediation. This needs to be sent to court for a Judge to endorse for it to become a legally binding agreement but usually there is no need for you to have to attend court at any stage.
What is a Memorandum of Understanding and an Open Financial Summary?
These are summary documents prepared by the mediator usually following the successful conclusion of mediation. They are designed to help you have all the information provided in mediation and a summary of the agreement reached. They will also help lawyers advise you on the proposed agreement and prepare the documents necessary to implement that agreement.
The Open Financial Summary is prepared in financial matters and sets out the financial disclosure, usually with supporting documentation, that you and your ex-partner have provided to the mediator during the course of mediation.
The Memorandum of Understanding is a summary of the discussions and proposals for agreement that you are making. It is a without prejudice document which means it does not form a legally binding agreement and cannot be shown to court.
Are the agreements legally binding?
Any agreements reached in mediation are not legally binding. As you are likely to be discussing issues that are very important to you and have significant long term consequences it is only right and necessary that you have the opportunity of discussing your proposals with a legal advisor before making the agreement legally binding. At the conclusion of the mediation the mediator will prepare summary documents setting out what is being proposed to help them advise you and incorporate any agreement into a legally binding document, if necessary.
What is a MIAM?
A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is usually your first meeting with the mediator. You attend this meeting on your own and not with your ex-partner. During the meeting the mediator will explain the mediation process to you and answer any questions you may have. It is also an opportunity for the mediator for find out about you and your circumstances so that they can assess whether mediation is suitable and also understand what you are hoping to achieve out of mediation. Following the MIAM you should be in a position to make an informed decision about whether you wish to proceed with mediation.