Family mediation can help at any time: while you are planning a separation; soon after the break-up; months or even years later, when people want to resolve new or outstanding issues.
Mediation may not work for everyone, but Mediators are skilled at helping people discuss important issues where there is high conflict and strong emotion.
We can ensure that you are able to express your views in mediation: if people aren't heard and taken seriously they cannot think creatively about how to solve problems. The UK's adversarial legal system can increase conflict, whereas mediation offers a way of including the needs of all involved.
After an introductory meeting, joint mediation only goes ahead if both people decide to participate.
In almost all cases, family courts require people to consider mediation before making a court application. They recognise that being heard and getting a balanced understanding of the situation as an important step in reaching workable arrangements. However, you won't be forced to mediate; joint mediation sessions between you and another person are entirely voluntary.
Other than in exceptional cases, you need to attend a meeting to learn about mediation before making a court application. The forms used to apply to court about financial issues on divorce (Form A) and to apply for an order about children arrangements (C100 form) both require a mediator's signature to show that you have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.
Mediation is a voluntary process which allows you to resolve practical issue yourselves. The decisions made in mediation are not legally binding, although a negotiated agreement both have chosen to commit to has a good chance of working. Mediated agreements can be converted into consent orders, giving them the same status as any order made by the court.
In most cases mediation will be suitable. However, in some situations (e.g. in cases of domestic violence) mediation may not be appropriate and would need to be discussed at an individual introductory meeting. We would also suggest you might seek legal advice if you are concerned that mediation may not be suitable for you.
We most often mediate between two people who have separated, or parents of a child. Some people want to involve new partners in their mediation. We're happy to consider this, or requests from grandparents and other relatives who wish to mediate about children, or other financial matters.
In most cases, it helps to be aware of your legal position. If you understand what a solicitor would advise, you can take full account of this in your mediation discussions. Of course, you are then free to make your own informed decisions.
Some urgent legal matters require legal advice as soon as possible.
Otherwise, it makes sense to consider mediation first, and to manage your own negotiations with the support of the mediator. You can consult a family solicitor during the process to check that you have accurately identified your own needs and options. Mediation doesn't replace a solicitor, but it nearly always reduces the costs involved in reaching agreements.
Mediators are impartial. We can give information to help you make decisions, but don't give legal advice. A mediator is there to help you consider possible ways forward, but it's for you to decide how to proceed.
The first introductory meeting is for you, individually, to let the Mediator know what is important to you. Mediation itself involves negotiation between two people, so you both need to attend if mediation is to take place.
Mediation meetings are normally face to face. Mediation helps you to communicate in a way that will lead to agreement and is usually much more effective with both people in the same room.
If you have concerns about being in the same room as the other person, please discuss this with your Mediator at your individual meeting, so that the Mediator can explore whether mediation is suitable. In certain circumstances we begin the process using shuttle mediation, where each person is in a separate room, and the Mediator moves between the two.