Family Law Mediation in Scotland

25 February 2011

You may have heard the word “mediation” mentioned in the news in the past couple of days. This is because mediation is to become compulsory for divorcing couples in England and Wales.  Well, that does not apply to us in Scotland, you may think. While we have different laws and our own legal system in Scotland, did you know that mediation can also have an important part to play here when family relations become strained or marriages breakdown?
It is always better for parties to attempt to resolve disputes without resorting to court action and this is most evident when children are involved. Family court actions can be stressful, upsetting and bewildering for the parties involved, although we always guide our clients through the process to make it as smooth as possible.
Mediation is a less formal process that can have a positive effect on outcomes. Of course, the willingness of the parties to resolve issues does matter and has to be taken into account. There will always be situations where mediation will not work.
"In Scotland we encourage the use of mediation in family cases when it is appropriate and safe to do so,” the BBC quoted a Scottish government spokeswoman as saying: "There is already provision in court rules in Scotland for a sheriff to refer matters relating to parental responsibilities and rights to a mediator."
The move in England and Wales is very interesting and has been described by Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly as “a quicker, cheaper and more amicable alternative, particularly where children are involved”. The main idea behind the scheme is for disputes to be resolved without them going to court and thus an acknowledgement that court actions can occasionally put a strain on parties and can have an adverse impact on children. They are also expensive for the State in terms of legal aid costs.
At Inksters, the facts of each case will be considered first of all, and, if appropriate, we regularly suggest to our Family Law clients that they consider mediation as a way forward when difficulties have arisen on the breakdown of a relationship. You can find out more about mediation in Scotland at  which is a very helpful website.
Inksters also has its own family law practitioner and collaborative lawyer in Gus Macaulay. Collaborative law is different to mediation. Collaborative law is a relatively new and alternative way of resolving disputes. Each party will have their own solicitor but unconventionally the parties and their solicitors all meet together to find a solution. This is a quicker, more amicable approach to resolving family disputes without going to court. Whatever it takes, we can guide you through the various options and what is involved, protecting your interests at all times. 
If you are interested in finding out more about mediation, collaborative law or wish to discuss a family law matter, please send Gus an e-mail or contact our court assistant Kathleen Simmonds on 0141 229 0880.  

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