What is Mediation?
Mediation is a facilitated discussion between you and your former partner to help you agree on issues such as childcare and finances.
Family mediation can be used during divorce and separation, as well as at key times in your child’s life. You may wish to discuss
- how to divide your property, pensions or debts
- child care arrangements, child contact and parenting responsibilities
- where your child goes to school, where they will live or plans for school holidays
Family mediation can also help to resolve family issues around child support, inheritance or grandparenting relationships.
Whatever the issue, the aim of mediation is to help everyone involved reach agreement and resolution quickly and with as little stress and upset as possible.
In most cases you will need to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before you start mediation - you can read more about this below.
How does it work?
Mediation involves talking to your ex face to face to agree on the things that are important to you. On average couples need just 2 or 3 sessions to reach an agreement.
Once an agreement has been reached you may decide to have a document written up detailing the exact terms of your agreement. Although this is not legally binding, it can be a useful tool to help you and your ex stick to your agreement, and can be helpful if you choose to pursue a legal route.
Mediation is not...
- Counselling or therapy - it's about dealing with the practical side of separation
- Trying to get couples back together
- Finding fault or taking sides - it's about helping you and your former partner to decide what's best for you and your family
- A faster, cheaper way to agree the terms of your divorce or separation, avoiding upsetting and expensive court actions
- A safe and neutral space to talk about practical issues involving children, money, pensions or property
- Assistance from experts who can help you reach an agreement, not to hold you back from one
- A proven successful way of reducing conflict
What is a MIAM and why should I have one?
MIAM stands for 'Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting'. Put simply a MIAM is a short meeting that explains what mediation is, how it can help, and a chance to assess whether it is suitable for you. In most cases you will need to attend a MIAM before you start mediation.
Attending a MIAM is compulsory in many situations.If you are separating from a partner, or need to negotiate about future arrangements for children and wish to make a court application, it is likely that you will need to have a MIAM.
The law recognises it is better to try and resolve situations of dispute or separation through discussion and agreement. MIAMs ensure you have the chance to try and find a way forward without a 'battle' in court.
During your assessment meeting your dedicated family mediator can also help to identify any other support that might be available and helpful to you, such as Legal Aid.
I want to give mediation a go. What happens now?
Still got questions? Read our FAQs or get in touch
Making sure children spend time with both mum and dad
Nigel and Emma's marriage ended when Nigel came home from work to find the house stripped, his wife and son Jake gone.
It was a tough time for them both and the couple found they were struggling to communicate after separation. Despite their challenges, Nigel and Emma knew it was important to put their child first. Even though they did not usually talk to each other directly, mediation helped them sit down together and calmly discuss how to divide Jake’s time fairly between them. They soon found an arrangement that worked for them both, ensuring their little boy now spends time with both mum and dad.
Avoid a stressful court battle
John and Zoe had been married for five years when they decided to part. After separation, John felt he was not spending enough time with his son. He was so frustrated that he decided to go to court, but before he could make application to court, he had to attend a mediation assessment meeting (MIAM), and realised that family mediation could be a better way forward. Zoe agreed to mediate and a first session was set up within a week, and after just two sessions they reached an agreement.
Going to court would have cost John around £5,000. Mediation helped John to avoid a stressful court battle, and ensure he spends more time with his son, for less than £800.
Keeping in contact when a child moves abroad
Penny's parents separated when she was just 4 years old. Shared parenting meant she spent time with both mum and dad and had a close and loving relationship with each of them. However, when Penny was 11 her mum’s job was relocated abroad. Penny’s dad was worried that if his daughter moved abroad, he would lose the special bond he had with her, so he was reluctant to agree the move.
Penny’s mum and dad came to mediation to decide what was best for their daughter; they discussed her education, how often they would need to travel to see each other if she lived abroad, and how this would be paid for. They soon agreed that Penny should live with her mum but found a way for Penny to see her dad every month, and during the holidays, using child maintenance payments to cover the travel expenses.
Financial mediation in later life
Elderly couple Ron and Della had been married nearly 40 years. When they decided to separate their only asset was the family home, however, they were in mortgage arrears and threatened with re-possession. With only their state pensions to live on, Ron and Della were struggling financially, and wanted to help to keep their divorce costs as low as possible.
A family member trusted by them both, took part in the mediation session, as both Ron and Della had health difficulties and worried about remembering everything. Together they decided to sell their family home and split the equity to clear their debts, leaving them enough money to find new accommodation and live apart, without spending their limited income on court costs.
What our clients say
“I left mediation feeling I had achieved something positive for my children.”
“It worked!! I cannot emphasise enough how it enabled myself and former partner to come to the fairest conclusion for all concerned.”
“I felt it was a non-confrontational atmosphere which could not be achieved without the mediation service.”
“The setting and our mediator allowed us to talk and open communication between us which will enable a mutual agreement without the stress and that is of great benefit to the children.”