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Family mediation

This document provides general guidance regarding family mediation and the mediation process. Your family lawyer will be able to provide specific advice based on your circumstances.

How does it work?

In mediation a trained mediator speaks to you and your former partner separately at first. This initial meeting is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

If you and your partner wish to proceed to mediation and if the mediator considers that meditation is suitable in your case, the aim to get everyone together to
talk about what arrangements will be made for the future. It can be used to work
out financial matters or children’s schedules and any other practical decisions that need to be addressed. It is a process that focuses very much on the future, rather than the past.   Our MIAM meetings and subsequent mediation sessions are all conducted remotely via Zoom or Teams.

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process. In the meetings the mediator will guide you through discussions that help you both to explain what you want to happen and eventually to reach an agreement. If you don’t manage to agree everything, you can’t refer in court to discussions that you’ve had in mediation, but financial information can be used in court.

How mediation may help you

When families are dealing with difficult or new experiences, such as the ending of a relationship or divorce; or parenting apart it is often hard to take stock and to know how best to deal with everything. Too often, people feel forced into war that is not of their making, is exhausting and damaging.

Mediation is a way in which you can take time to consider what is important and decide how best to resolve things for the future. Mediation provides an opportunity for people to resolve issues relating to all family relationships, separation, or divorce privately, discretely and by reaching their own informed decisions that work for the future – and especially for any children involved.

Mediation works by

  • Being something that each and both choose – it is a voluntary, you do not have to mediate – and your mediator will want to check with you that you are coming to mediation voluntarily and by choice.
  • Helping you to make a decision that work for you – you remain in control – your mediator will assist you in reaching decisions that will work for you and for everyone involved. You can consult with your solicitor or other advisers during the mediation process – in fact, your mediator will discuss with you when it may be helpful for you to do so. The decisions are yours to make.
  • Mediators work with you in an even-handed way – they help you both to think through what is important to deal with and how you can arrange things in a way that works best for your future – and if you are a parent, for your children. Mediators can also work in partnership with your own legal or other advisers so that you are making decisions that are based on a clear understanding of your legal situation or in relation to your individual finances.
  • Mediation is confidential; your discussions cannot be reported elsewhere or used in anyway against you. For your safety and security, confidentiality does not apply if there should be any concern of or an allegation of significant harm against another person, especially a child. If this should happen, your mediator will discuss with you what needs to happen, what they will do and discuss what you need to do next.

Mediators can help you with all matters you need to resolve whether that is about money, housing, arrangements for children and successful parenting after a separation. Mediators will help you to look at your financial situation so that you can both be clear about what is available to you and how you can plan. They can help you gain confidence in knowing how your finances are arranged beyond your separation – and importantly, for parents to consider how best to ensure children continue to feel secure about their family – and for parents to feel confident about parenting apart.

Mediators can also help with issues that arise regarding the wider family – for grand-parents and other members of the extended family. Mediation usually takes between two and five sessions of 90 minutes each, depending on issues you need to resolve. Generally, mediation meetings are held jointly, with both of you but start with a meeting with you individually (MIAM) so that the mediator can answer any questions you may have, explain how the meetings usually work and ensure that you have all the information you need to come to mediation confidently and comfortably.

If your case involves a financial aspect, there will usually be an exchange of financial information during the course of mediation which the mediator will explain during the MIAM.  At the conclusion of your mediation, your mediator will provide you with documents that detail decisions and proposals you have reached and when appropriate, detail your financial situation (which are ‘portable’ and can be taken to your solicitors or to other professional advisers) so that you can each check out the details with your respective solicitors and that your solicitors can then put into the relevant legal documentation as an agreement between you.

The Role of the Mediator

My role as a mediator is to assist you both to consider the ways of resolving any issues that you may have for making future arrangements for yourselves and any children. I will help you both to explore the options you may have, with a view to your reaching an outcome that you both consider will work for you all. That might not be the same as a solution arrived at by a court. I will tell you if I think that your proposals might fall outside of what a court might approve or order and can give you information about what courses of action are open to you to seek individual advice.

The choices and decisions are yours. I will not tell you what you should do or comment about what your individual ‘best interests’ are or might be. It is possible and often very helpful for you to have advice from a (or your own) solicitor during the course of your mediation so that you are able to make informed decisions and so that each of your solicitors (if you have them) is aware of how the mediation is progressing. I will help you to consider when legal advice would be helpful. Sometimes, it may be helpful for your solicitors to be present for some or all of the mediation meetings.

When working as a mediator, I will provide you with legal and other information, on an even-handed and general basis to assist you both in working towards your own decisions and particularly to assist you in how the general principles of the law may affect anything you are planning or proposing to do as a result of your discussions together, including how the courts consider what would be within a reasonable range for any outcome/settlement. This is different from providing legal advice (or representation), which I cannot provide to you and I will talk with each and both of you about when it would or might be helpful to have legal (or other) advice to help you.

Legal advice

While you are going through mediation, it is sensible to take some legal advice. This can be the best balance between keeping costs low and achieving a settlement that works for you.

An agreement reached in mediation is not legally binding by itself but can be turned into a court order to become binding and enforceable if that is what both of you agree should happen. It is usual to do this in financial matters. If you decide to consult me as your mediator, you are not able to come to me for legal advice due.

It is important to say that Mediation is not always the right or appropriate choice for everyone.

If there has been any form of abuse in your relationship, if you don’t feel able to speak up in your own interest or that of your children or if you think you would feel at risk in choosing mediation, then you should tell any mediator you contact or who is in contact with you that is the case so that they can explore with you what might be more helpful and useful for you in dealing with things.

If you decide to issue court proceedings

In most cases, before most family proceedings can be issued by way of an application to the court, the courts’ requirements are that you must at least explore the possibility of an alternative method of dispute resolution by attending a mediation information and assessment meeting (a MIAM). In some cases, a MIAM may not be suitable. Your family lawyer can explain whether your circumstances are such that the court would not expect you to attend a MIAM.

Cost

There are 3 main stages to family mediation, the MIAM, the sessions and where appropriate drafting documentation. Our costs are as follows;

  1. MIAM £144 each person
  2. Mediation Session – £234 per person for each session up to 90 minutes
  3. Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between approximately £216 to £576 per person.  These can be required in children and financial cases*
  4. Open Financial Summary (OFS) £216 to £576 per person. These are only required in financial cases.*

*This cost depends on how complex your financial circumstances are and may be higher for more complex cases which I will discuss with you.

Therefore, as an illustration, a financial case requiring a MIAM, 3 sessions, a MOU and OFS will cost between £1,278 and £1,998 each.

A children arrangements mediation, requiring a MIAM, 1 session and a MOU will cost between £594 and £954 each person.

Please note that the above costs include vat.

To make an appointment online, please visit our client portal (selecting the MIAM option) or call 01245 890224.