Mediation is a process whereby you and the party you have a dispute with agree to appoint a third party 'mediator' to agree an outcome or solution to the problem.
It is well suited to family situations, such as divorces, as it aims to keep the dispute out of court. This is often less stressful for those involved. Mediation keeps things moving forward on a more positive note and has a great deal of scope for compromise both ways, rather than the more complicated and accusitory nature of court.
Not only can keeping the dispute of out court reduce costs significantly, but it may also be required. From 6th April 2011, for instance, a Mediation Assessment is required for divorcing couples before going to court to debate finances on divorce.
Although mediation is informal, you should not go into mediation without first consulting a solicitor. They will provide advice about the mediation process, whether or not it is suitable for your dispute and can refer you to a suitable mediatior. They will also be there to advise you throughout the process and can draw on years of experience to make sure you get the best possible deal.