Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Family Mediation?
Family Mediation helps couples who are separating or getting a divorce to work through their issues in a more supportive, constructive, and less expensive way than going to court.
A Family Mediator with formal training and experience in dealing with conflict and emotional situations will help guide you and your family members through issues such as property, finance and arrangements for any children, in an impartial way, not taking sides, or making judgements.
What happens in the first meeting?
The first mediation meeting is called MIAM and stands for “Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting”. These meetings are one-to-one, with each client seeing the mediator separately. At this meeting it will be decided how best to proceed with the mediation process itself.
It’s an opportunity to talk through your situation with your Mediator, find out how the process works, decide whether it’s right for you, and make plans for future joint mediation sessions.
Is mediation compulsory by law?
It is a legal requirement to consider mediation by way of attending a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before you can ask a court to make a decision on your case. There are currently 15 exemptions to this, which range from domestic abuse, to living abroad, to child safety. If, having attended a MIAM either you (or the mediator) decide that you do not want to go through with mediation, then you do not have to attend.
If you have been invited to attend a MIAM and do not respond or decline, you may have to explain your reasons to the judge.
In some cases the judge may adjourn your proceedings whilst you attempt mediation. Even in such circumstances you do not have to attend, although the judge will want to know the reasons why.
How long does mediation take?
The average for most clients on parenting or financial matters is 3 x 90-minute mediation appointments.
As a general guide we estimate 1-2 sessions for mediations about children only, 3 sessions for child inclusive mediation, 4 sessions for mediations about property/finance only, and 5 sessions for mediations dealing with children and property/finance issues.
Mediations are usually completed within three to four months, making it much quicker than the court process which takes between six to twelve months. The mediator will be able to give you a clearer idea of the number of meetings you will need and the overall timescale.
What Are The Benfits Of Family Mediation?
Family mediation supports parents to develop good relationships after separation, leading to co-operative parenting, which is highly beneficial for children.
The court process is inflexible and adversarial by nature, while a family mediator will adapt to your needs, help you reduce stress and improve communication between you and your partner.
Family mediation is quicker than going to court and cheaper than going to court. Family mediation takes an average of 110 days, compared with 435 days for non-mediated cases, and costs £675 on average, compared to £2,823 for cases going to court.
How do I know if mediation is best for me?
It is a mandatory requirement to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before applying to court, but joint family mediation sessions are not.
Mediation is most effective when both clients are:
- Motivated to resolve their issues
- Prepared to listen to one another
- Wish to be fair with one another
- Able to keep the best interests of the children in mind
- Able to negotiate
When Is Family Mediation Not Suitable?
Mediation could be more difficult or deemed unsuitable for the following reasons:
- Legal considerations – e.g. where there is an urgent need to apply to court to stop a child being abducted, or, in the case of disputes over secure tenancies, where there is no hope of agreement between parties because an agreement would render one party intentionally homeless.
- Poor mental or physical health.
- Significant emotional imbalance, for example where one party has moved on, with the other in a state of significant distress at the end of the relationship.
- When there has been domestic violence that has left one party in fear of the other.
- When one or both parties will not give full financial disclosure in a financial case.
Do both parties have to attend mediation at the same time?
At your first meeting with a mediator, the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), meetings are one-to-one, with each client seeing the mediator separately. At this meeting it will be decided how best to proceed with the mediation process itself.
Once mediation is underway, the most common model is for both parties to meet together with the mediator in the same room. By meeting together there is greater opportunity for meaningful dialogue, which can help to reduce conflict and lead to an improved future relationship as co-parents. This model is also quicker, and therefore cheaper, as discussions flow more freely.
However, if it is not possible to meet in the same room, there are other mediation models that can be considered. For example, mediation can take place in the same venue, at the same time, but in two different rooms with the mediator “shuttling” between the rooms. This model is called shuttle mediation.
The mediation process is a flexible one, so there are also other options that can be considered, depending on the specifics of your case. If you or your mediator thinks that some other model may be appropriate, perhaps involving a solicitor, a financial advisor, or other relevant professional, this can be discussed and agreed between us.
How Much Does Family Mediation Cost?
Family mediation is charged on an hourly rate, so costs depend on how many hours of mediation you have had and what outcome documents you require.
The average cost for 2 sessions of 90 minutes plus one child inclusive session is £580.
You can see overall mediation cost estimates on average here.
Our full rates, as well as estimates for overall costs, can be seen here.
What is the cost of divorce?
When should I start mediating?
Mediation can take place at any time, even after court proceeding have started.
However, in general, it is best to try mediation as soon as you can. This will help to reduce the amount of time and money spent on the dispute, and open dialogue with the other party before the conflict becomes too established.
Can mediation proposals be made legally binding?
Yes. Joint proposals arrived at in mediation can be made legally binding in a number of ways. Most commonly, mediation outcomes are converted into consent orders or private agreements by a solicitor. Consent orders are then submitted to the court to be ratified. Parenting Plans can also be signed to confirm your intention to be bound by the agreements contained within, making them a type of private agreement.
Your mediator will help you to understand the options available to you, dependent on the specifics of your case.
Can I get legal aid for my mediation?
We are unable to offer Legal Aid at the moment.
We are, however, part of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) Voucher Scheme (children matters only), which entitles you to a grant of up to £500 per family, to be shared equally between participants. The grant covers the cost joint mediation sessions, but not assessment meetings or documentation fees. It is not means tested and is therefore available to everyone.
You can read more about the voucher scheme here.
You can find more information about Legal Aid for Family Mediation here.
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