What is Family Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary informal process where both the parties have control over the outcome. Mediators are totally impartial which means that they will facilitate the mediation whilst maintaining a neutral role – neither party will be forced into an agreement.
The process is entirely confidential and so is the outcome, which can be drawn up as a legal document or remain as a signed up informal agreement.
What do Family Mediators do?
Family mediators are trained to work with people whose relationships have broken down. They come from professional backgrounds, such as law and healthcare.
Mediators will find solutions that both of you can agree on. A mediator will ask you questions to understand your situation and, unlike going to court, you stay in control. No-one can make you do anything against your wishes. Discussions are confidential.
Children have the right to a relationship with both parents (as long as it is safe) and their needs are most important. Some mediators are trained to include children in discussions but only if both you, your partner and the child agree.
What happens if I go to family mediation?
If you agree to try mediation, you will need to attend mediation sessions (usually 1-2 hours each). The length and number of sessions will depend on your situation.
When an agreement is reached, the mediator will write it down in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ so that everyone is clear about what has been decided.
You can ask the court to make the agreement legally binding if both you and your partner agree.
This is sometimes useful if arrangements are meant to run over a period of time, such as child maintenance payments, or when people are concerned that their (ex-) partner will not stick to the agreement.
Some people going through mediation find it helpful to have legal support to advise them. Legal aid may be available for this.
What if things don’t go as planned afterwards?
If the situation changes and the arrangements aren’t working, you can go back to the mediator. If needed, you can agree to change the Memorandum of Understanding.
A MOU is a document which summaries the parties positions and sets out the proposals the couple have agreed to which they can then seek legal advice upon the suitability and for applying to court to turn the proposals into a final financial settlement Court order.
What if I want to go to court?
You will still need to show the court that :
- You have been to a MIAM to find out about mediation, or
- you are exempt from having to do this, for example because violence or abuse is involved (see below).
If you have already seen a solicitor, they should explain all of this to you.
What are the benefits?
- gives you more say about what happens. In court a judge will make the decisions. With mediation you and the other party make the decisions.
- is less stressful , with less conflict between you and your partner. If you have children it is less upsetting for them. It can help find ways for everyone involved to get on better in the future.
- improves communication and helps you sort out your future.
- is flexible and agreements can be changed when circumstances change.
- is easier on your children when parents co- operate and helps them continue important family relationships.
- is quicker, cheaper and provides a better way to sort out disagreements than long drawn-out court battles – helping you to get on with the rest of your life as quickly as possible.
When should I try family mediation?
Contact MediationMK as soon as you and your partner have decided to split up and need help sorting out arrangements – the sooner the better, before the issues become big problems. You don’t need to see a solicitor first.
Even if you have been separated for a while or if your case has already gone to court, mediation can help to resolve any dispute you may have.
The first step is to attend a meeting with the mediator so you can find out more about mediation and if it’s right for you. This is called a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) . You can go with your partner, or you can see the mediator separately if you prefer.
Is family mediation right for everyone?
No. The ‘MIAM’ is for discussing whether mediation will work for you both. If mediation isn’t right there may be other options that will still avoid you having to go to court, for example collaborative law or solicitor negotiation. Visit www.sortingoutseparation.org.uk for more information.
What if domestic abuse or child abuse is involved?
Cases involving domestic abuse or child abuse are not usually right for mediation and you will not need to go to a MIAM. If you have evidence of domestic abuse or child abuse you may qualify for legal aid to pay for a solicitor to help you bring your case to court.
How much will mediation cost?
Please call for a free no obligation consultation with one of our Mediator Team.
Find out more
See if you are eligible for financial help. Use the online Legal Aid Checker at www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid
Alternatively, call the Civil Legal Advice service on 0845 345 4 345, Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 8.00pm, Saturday 9.00am to 12.30pm. Calls cost 4p per minute from a BT landline, mobiles usually cost more.
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