Family mediation gives separating couples an opportunity to decide for themselves what to do about their children and finances, with help and guidance from trained and impartial mediators. In family mediation, clients are encouraged to co-operate with one another to negotiate and find their own ways to move forward with their lives. Research shows that family mediation can cost less than a quarter of the price and take a quarter of the time of going to court and, more importantly, it can ensure better results for families too. (Family Mediators Association)
What mediation IS…
An alternative process to lengthy, costly and stressful legal proceedings.
Mediation is a voluntary process. There is usually a more acceptable outcome if people choose to engage in finding solutions that you both believe to be fair and suited to both of your needs and those of your family. It provides you with the opportunity for a co-operative and constructive approach to practical issues, such as deciding whether to be separated or divorced, co-parenting of your children and, the division of property, finances, debts and possessions. The outcomes are not imposed. You are fully involved in and responsible for your decisions. It can help improve communication for the future. You are free to end mediation whenever you wish.
Mediation is confidential. Whatever is discussed during mediation should not be disclosed to others and would not be permissible in court should a solution not be found. This means that you can discuss options freely without worrying that you are going to commit yourself to something without due thought or later realising that it would not suit you. Once decisions have been made and mutually agreed on, a solicitor can make them legally binding should you wish this to happen.
Mediation is impartial. Your mediator will not take sides. Unlike a solicitor who is focused on legal solutions in the interests of you both as individuals, your mediator is focused on helping you find practical solutions that work for everyone in the family. They are trained to work with people in conflict and to help you find those solutions.
What mediation IS NOT…
Mediation is not reconciliation. It is designed for couples who have already decided to separate. It can, however, help you decide if you wish to remain separated or begin divorce proceedings.
Mediation is not counselling. Many mediators have therapeutic backgrounds but that is not their role in the mediation process. Whilst they will encourage you to talk honestly about your feelings, their focus is on practical rather than emotional solutions in the present and for the future. They can provide information regarding therapeutic support if you are struggling with the separation emotionally.
Mediation is not a substitute for legal advice. Your mediator will be able to provide legal information but will not be able to advise. You will need to take separate legal advice before making final decisions or if you wish to making those decisions legally binding via a consent order.
Mediation is not legally binding. Nothing agreed on is in itself legally binding. At the end of mediation, your mediator will produce a summary of proposals on which you are both agreed. You could then enter into a legally binding agreement after taking legal advice. This would be done via a solicitor and if you were both agreed.
Mediation is not an arena to impose views, bully or abuse your partner. The mediator is trained to work with people in conflict and will facilitate respectful behaviours.
What happens in mediation?
Prior to mediation starting, you would both attend a pre-mediation meeting. If you have applied to court, you may have been instructed to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Your partner does not have to attend. A pre-mediation meeting is similar for those who have not applied to court. It is an opportunity to find out more about mediation and to decide, with your mediator, whether it is right for you and to identify the main issues that you would like to resolve. Should you feel that you would like to engage in mediation, your partner would be invited to a pre-mediation meeting also. If you are both ready to engage in mediation, joint meetings would be arranged between both of you and your mediator to begin the process of finding solutions. You will never be left alone together and all information will be on a shared basis. At the end of mediation, your mediator will produce a Financial Disclosure and a Summary of Proposals that may be used by your legal representation to make it legally binding should you both agree to that. You may always return to mediation should further disputes arise in the future.
How much does it cost?
Your investment in each mediation session is £200 per person.
Preparation of the Financial Disclosure and Summary of Proposals ranges from £140 to £280 depending on contents.