Our experts have provided some information and answers here to some frequently asked questions regularly raised by our clients who are interested in family mediation.
What is Family Mediation?
Mediation offers people an opportunity to communicate with one another with an experienced lawyer/mediator with the view of addressing issues and disputes following separation.
Problems to sort out might include arrangements for children, housing, money, pensions and so on.
Mediation can be helpful at any stage.
Your relationship might be as former partners, parents, or as a grandparent.
What does a family mediator do?
The mediator’s role is to be impartial, and to help you to work through any issues following separation and to reach an agreement, for example regarding finances and/or children.
The mediator will not tell you what to do or give you advice. But the mediator can give you information about the court’s approach and what the law says.
All our mediators are also solicitors with many years of experience in family law.
Who will be at the mediation meeting?
Normally it will involve the two principle people who have separated, but it can with their consent also involve others.
Can I still get advice from my solicitor?
Yes. Mediation is another option available to you to potentially resolve any financial issues or arrangements for children consequent to separation.
A mediator is impartial and is available to assist you to facilitate an agreement. It is a not the role of the mediator to advise you or any party attending mediation.
Further more a mediator will always encourage you to take advice from your solicitor either before, during or upon conclusion of mediation.
If mediation results in a concluded agreement, the mediator can prepare a memorandum of understanding to reflect the terms of the agreement and will encourage you to take legal advice on its contents.
Can my children have a say?
Yes. Depending on your child’s age and provided your child, both parents and the mediator agree, the mediator can arrange to spend some time with your child or children.
Not all mediators will be able to offer this facility as they need a specific qualification to do so.
Can you give me an idea of timescale?
Typically each mediation meeting together lasts for an hour and a half. You might have say three meetings over a period of say four to six weeks. On the other hand one meeting might be enough.
Timescale depends very much on what will work best for you and your situation. The mediator will discuss this with you at the introductory meeting.
Do I have to meet my ex-partner?
No. You don’t have to meet. The mediator will discuss this with you at the introductory meeting.
One option is to have what is called ‘shuttle mediation’ which involves both of you coming to our office, but at different arrival and departure times and while being in different rooms.
Mediation can also take place by means of video if both parties are agreeable.
How much does mediation cost?
For those participating in Family Mediation, the following costs apply:
- an introductory session, or MIAM is £90 plus VAT per person.
- a one-and-a-half hour mediation session is £160 plus VAT per person.
Although dependent on your personal circumstances, on average one to four sessions are normally undertaken.
I don’t understand why my solicitor has referred me to mediation
Your solicitor thinks that an introductory mediation meeting (MIAM) will give you extra useful information about the options available to help you sort out your arrangements.
MIAMs are typically used for one of two purposes. Firstly, to gather more information about mediation and thereafter either pursue mediation, or obtain authority from the mediator to apply to the court for an appropriate order.
Is mediation confidential?
The initial MIAM appointment is confidential.
Thereafter the discussions which take place in each mediation meeting are confidential between you and anyone else at the meeting including the mediator.
However, there are two quite important exceptions:
- If the mediator thinks that anyone involved (including a child) might be at risk of harm.
- If the mediator thinks that anyone might be involved in any financial irregularity.
So a plan reached in mediation is not legally binding?
No, an agreement reached in mediation is not legally binding. This is an important safeguard for everyone.
The purpose of mediation is to give those involved an opportunity to reach an agreement on issues consequent to separation. In comparison to court proceedings it is immediately accessible and represents very good value.
For those taking up the opportunity of mediation, it’s highly likely that you will reach agreement and that both parties will respect this. Otherwise time and costs will have been wasted and you would have to revert to the other options.
The mediator will also assist in reaching an agreement which is likely to be satisfactory to both parties and their solicitors if they chose to take advice.