– what you need to know
Family mediation is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which helps you reach decisions about things that are important for you and your family, without having to go through the court process.
The Benefits of Mediation
Mediation gives you the opportunity to take your time and think about the issues that are important to you, whether it be arrangements for your children as they grow up, how to deal with money within the marriage or options of where you will live. The process moves at your pace, which ensures you can carefully consider each issue rather than rushing through it.
Mediators will listen to you to find out what is important to you, and help you make your own choices about how to move forward. Once you and your partner are satisfied with the decisions you have made, you can then instruct a solicitor to complete the legal formalities.
You can also consult your own solicitor during the mediation process, to check that the choices being taken are in your best interests.
Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
Mediation has become a more central part of family law since the changes in law which now require you to attend a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before issuing an application to commence financial proceedings or proceedings under the Children Act. This assessment meeting gives you the opportunity to see how mediation works, and allows the mediator to work out with you whether mediation will be suitable for you and your family. The mediator should discuss how many sessions you may need, how much they cost and whether you are eligible for legal aid to pay for mediation.
In most circumstances, whomever is applying to the court for a financial order or a child arrangements order will have to attend a MIAM. The other person involved is also expected to attend, but they do not have to go to the same meeting as you. There are exemptions, particularly if domestic violence has arisen within the relationship.
If everyone agrees at the first appointment that mediation would work well, you will book further mediation sessions. It normally takes between three and five meetings to come to an agreement, depending on the issues in question.
Mediating with Children
Older children are now also becoming part of the mediation process, if mediation is about child arrangements. If the mediator you have chosen is happy to do so, they can talk to the children of the family about what they would like to happen, so that the parents can make decisions which take into account their children’s wishes as well as their own.
This blogpost is for information purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice because it does not consider or take into account your own personal circumstances. If in doubt, seek legal advice.