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What is family mediation?

04/12/2020

If you and your former partner are going through a separation and/or divorce, it is likely that you will need to make certain arrangements or agreements which will set you on the best path to an amicable separation.

Family mediation is an important part of this process and can be the difference between a relatively smooth separation or one which may result in acrimony and the involvement of the courts.
Attending family mediation will give you and your former partner the opportunity to discuss the most important issues to you both in an attempt to reach a resolution in respect of any issues that have arisen following your separation to include arrangements for the children of the family and/or property and financial matters.

Family mediation is often the preferred route for many separating couples as this is often cheaper, more simple and far less stressful than proceeding through the courts. When given the opportunity to discuss potentially contentious matters, such as finances and parenting with the assistance of an independent and experienced mediator, many couples will find it easier to come to an agreement in a civilised manner and in a way which will help all those involved to move on quickly from what is often be a difficult and emotional time of life.

What happens at family mediation?

Having met previously with each party individually, at your first joint mediation session an accredited and impartial mediator will meet with both you and your former spouse/partner together. This can either be in the same room or you can sit separately if this is preferred.

Most mediation sessions will last around 90 minutes, an agenda having been agreed at the outset by you both. Both parties are able to discuss matters which they feel are important to them. The Mediator will assist to facilitate these discussions and will help to drive the dialogue in a positive direction.

The key factor to be aware of when entering into the mediation process is that it is designed to be driven by you, helping you to set the course of your separation/divorce and to come to agreements with your former partner/spouse that are not influenced by anyone outside of your relationship. It is also possible to ensure that the views of the children are ascertained too if considered necessary and appropriate.

How to apply for family mediation?

You can either telephone the Mediator direct or send an email to them. An initial meeting (MIAM) will then be arranged so that both yourself and the Mediator can discuss your situation and a decision can be made regards whether mediation is suitable and at what stage contact should be made with the other party to invite them to consider the process.

How much does family mediation cost?

Mediation fees are considered to be preferential to traditional lawyer fees as they are set up specifically for meetings and documents. The costs can also be apportioned or shared between the mediating couple which reduces the legal fees commitment from each person. Generally, there is more control over the amount being paid and when it needs to be paid.

What is a MIAM and how is it different to mediation?

MIAMs and mediation are sometimes confused in family law, but they are two very separate processes.

Your first meeting with a mediator is often called a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

This first meeting with a mediator will provide you with the opportunity to find out how mediation works. It will also consider whether the mediation process is right for you.

Mediation is voluntary, but if you need to apply to the Court for help dealing with issues relating to financial settlement on divorce or children, attendance at a Mediation Information

Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is compulsory in most circumstances.

Find out more about how a MIAM differs from mediation >

Is the outcome of family mediation legal binding?

If you have reached decisions during mediation, it is likely that you would seek to have these in writing and for both of you to be bound by them. However, clients should be reminded that one of the principles of mediation is that proposals and discussions are confidential to the mediation process. Therefore, although all agreements will be confirmed in writing and set out clearly within a Memorandum of Understanding, that document by itself is not legally enforceable. Should you seek the incorporation of that within a legally binding document then this can be forwarded to your Lawyer who can advise on that.

Video transcript

My name’s Michelle Bettell and I work at Steele Raymond Solicitors.

Well, at a mediation session, I will meet with both parties again. I would have already met with both parties previously at an initial assessment meeting. As a mediator, I have to remain completely impartial.

When I meet with both parties at the first session, I will speak with them and set an agenda probably and say, “Well, since we’ve last met, has anything happened? Has anything taken place that you want to talk about today?” Mediation sessions are 90 minutes or an hour and a half. What are the options moving forward?

Another benefit of mediation is that it’s your process. I don’t make the rules, you do. I’m just there to manage the process and to facilitate and assist you in having those discussions.

Contact us

To speak to one of our family mediators or to arrange an initial mediation consultation, please contact Michelle Bettell or a member of our family team on 01202 983999. Alternatively, you can enquire using the form below.

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