Family Mediation is a process of negotiation in which our Family Mediators help you to reach decisions about arrangements for the future which you are finding difficult to tackle together.
Family Mediation aims to help you to iron out misunderstandings, and to resolve feelings of anger and stress. The process addresses communication difficulties and helps you to focus on finding a solution that meets the needs of you, your partner and especially any children.
The idea is to empower you and your family to work things out for yourselves. There are so many things to sort out when a family splits up, and as time goes on there are usually new issues that need to be resolved. Once a family have successfully made arrangements with the help of a Family Mediator they are often able to make arrangements without assistance.
Family Mediation is not a substitute for legal advice. Our Family Mediators might help you find information yourself but will not give you advice. Your solicitor will still support you and give you legal advice and will be needed to help you if the arrangements are to be made legally binding.
Family Mediation is not a counselling service. Family Mediators don’t try to get people back together again. If in the Family Mediation process it appeared that there was doubt as to whether the relationship was over information about other agencies that may be able to assist would be given.
Why use mediation?
The process will help you to focus on the issues involved such as the needs of the children or the financial arrangements.
The Family Mediation takes place in a private and informal setting and usually involves just the two of you and the Family Mediator. It will also help you to improve communication and reduce conflict even when trust may have gone and positions seem far apart. The Family Mediator will help both of you to listen to what the other has to say, to understand each other’s needs and concerns, and to find a solution that is fair to you both.
The Family Mediator will not take sides and will not tell you what arrangements to make. The Family Mediator will help you to look at different solutions and will help you to share ideas and look at the reality of proposals.
All discussions with the Family Mediator are confidential, unless serious concerns are raised about the welfare of the children.
The Family Mediator will summarise in writing any agreed proposals you make in Family Mediation and will, with your agreement, send them to your solicitor. The process can be much less costly than alternatives although it is still important to instruct a solicitor to ensure the arrangements are legally binding.
The success rates are high. The Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (sometimes called "MIAM") is a without obligation intake appointment. The appointment costs £150 plus VAT for a joint appointment. Eligibility for Public Funding will be covered at that meeting. Information will be provided on Family Mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution. The Family Mediator will consider the suitability of yourself and your partner and your dispute for mediation and as part of that process will be screening for Domestic Abuse. If you are eligible for Public Funding, you will be referred to a Mediator who has a current Legal Services Commission Contract to deliver Family Mediation. The costs of your MIAM appointment will be refunded.
The Pre-Application Protocol for Mediation Information and Assessment came into force on the 6th April 2011. From that date, Applicants wishing to issue an application in relevant family proceedings have to provide a completed form "FM1" with their application confirming that they have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting or that they are exempt from doing so.
When does Family Mediation help?
You can use Family Mediation at any stage you feel it would help, whether you
- are still living together,
- are living separately,
- are already divorced,
- are involved in court proceedings
Who can use mediation?
Solicitors often refer their clients to a Family Mediator. This maybe because an application in relevant family proceedings is being considered and the Court will require the form "FM1" to be completed so that it can be provided to the Court with the application confirming that the Applicant has attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting ("MIAM") or that they are exempt from doing so. Solicitors also sometimes refer their clients to a Family Mediator as a preliminary step to making an application for Public Funding to take Court proceedings.
Many people refer themselves to a Family Mediation process and they can be re-assured that the Family Mediation process is voluntary. They will be given information at the initial appointment which is known ("MIAM") and given full information about Family Mediation and other forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution and the suitability for Family Mediation will be considered.
All parents, whether you have lived together or not can use mediation.
Carers or grandparents can also use the Family Mediation process where there is a dispute about children.
What issues do families bring to mediation?
Parents and carers often need help to make arrangements for their children. It is normal for issues such as whether or when or where or how contact takes place to be negotiated. Families may also be in conflict over where a child lives.
Partners and spouses may wish to make arrangements about their finances and property. Sometime the task looks very daunting and it can be hard to know where to begin. The Family Mediation process is designed to help couples to take a safe and careful route of negotiations until they can make arrangements that both think are fair.
Families have all sorts of issues to do with separation or divorce, breakdown of arrangements and communication. The Family Mediation service will assess whether your case is suitable.
Will mediation be safe?
Family Mediators must make sure that Family Mediation discussions are fair and that anyone who attends the process feels safe. The Family Mediator will check with each of you separately before and during Family Mediation to see whether there is a problem of violence or abuse.
If you are concerned about your safety or your children’s safety, you should tell the Family Mediator. It is possible to keep your address or phone number confidential if you don’t want your partner to have those details. Separate arrival and departure arrangements can be made and you can ask for separate waiting areas.
How much does Family Mediation cost?
If you do have to pay, there is no standard fee but the rate is by the hour. Our Family Mediation Service fees are payable at the end of each session or as otherwise arranged and are £180 per hour plus VAT. The fees can be shared between you on a 50:50 basis or in any other way you may agree. If you are eligible for Public Funding then you will be referred to a Family Mediator holding a current contract to deliver publicly funded mediation.
How long will mediation take?
Family Mediation usually lasts for between two and five sessions each of about an hour and a half. It depends how complicated your dispute is. A summary of your proposals in a child only dispute or a Memorandum of Understanding setting out full details of acceptable proposals reached between you in finance and property disputes will be prepared along with an Open Statement of Financial Information to enable your solicitor to make the proposals legally binding.
The aim of Family Mediation is that you will find a solution that meets your needs but moreover is fair to your partner and yourself and especially any children.