Choosing to Mediate a Divorce can occur at pre-trial stage or subsequent to parties filing legal action.
Couples opting for this process, engage the services of a Family Mediator to help them reach terms and settlement before ending their marriage.
Mediation Involving Children (Court Mediation)
For couples with children below the age of 14 in Singapore, it is compulsory for them to attend Child Focused Resolution Centre mediation sessions, which revolve around the need for parents to develop meaningful relationships with their children, address the issues of custody & access, and negotiate the dynamics of co-parenting after divorce.
For those with children between the ages of 14 and 21, they would need to attend mediation at the Family Court to address children and other ancillary (financial) issues.
CFRCs are mediated by trained Judges-Mediators. At this stage there need not be an agreement on (financial) ancillary issues but couples are encouraged to reach a global settlement. It makes sense for separating couples with children to try and mediate their Divorce to reach terms and financial settlement. The mediation process will lessen the impact of the divorce on children and avoid the often lengthy and draining litigation process.
In divorce mediation, couples meet with a neutral third party, the mediator (who is a neutral third party), and with his help, they work through the issues that need to be resolved, in order to move on amicably and in a cost effective manner. The issues covered by the mediation process include, but are not limited to the following:
Distribution of property & assets
Child Custody/parenting plan
With the help of the couple, the mediator addresses and works out agreements on the above mentioned issues. If agreements are hard to reach, it is the mediator`s job to keep the lines of communication open and keep the couple focused on the issues at hand.
Mediation is a civil way to resolve financial and parenting issues when couples make the difficult decision to separate and subsequently divorce.
When the Mediation is completed and all Issues are covered, a Memorandum of Understanding is drawn up by the mediator. It contains the agreement that couples have undertaken, and then submitted to their respective Lawyer/s, who will complete the required divorce/separation forms as an uncontested divorce.
What is the difference between Mediation and the Collaborative Divorce process?
The answer to this question is not an easy one. Whilst the desired outcome form both models of negotiation are the same, they each vary in negotiation styles and consequences, should each model of Mediation fail.
In Mediation, lawyers will be advocating their clients’ positions to a greater degree and Mediation negotiations will by nature be more tactical. In the Collaborative Process, their collaborative focus is to help parties to reach decision on their issues and support couples towards achieving settlement.
If negotiations break down in the Mediation process, parties are still allowed to retain their representing lawyers and proceed to file for Divorce through the family Court system for directions and ruling. However, in the Collaborative Divorce Process, representing lawyers are not allowed to further represent their clients should the process fail and the divorce process will have to be initiated by another family lawyer.
Ms Gloria James is a trained Family Law Mediator, experienced in making sure that separating couples cover all terms and settlement issues when employing the mediation process.
As a certified Associate Mediator at the Subordinate Courts of Singapore and the Singapore Mediation Centre, Ms james has presided over numerous cases with successful resolution throughout SMC scheme.