Family Mediation FAQs
What is Family Mediation?
Family Mediation is a process to sort out differences which arise in advance of, during, or post the separation or divorce.
Family Mediation helps separating or divorcing couples to agree on childcare and financial matters in a structured and focused setting.
Family Mediation is a voluntary process. Everything discussed in Family Mediation is confidential unless a criminal activity is being committed or if there is someone at risk of harm or safety.
Mediation gives both clients the opportunity to explain their matters, hopes and concerns, and their needs, to one another with a Family Mediator being present.
Mediation offers a safe setting and helps to reduce any animosity and works on improving communication between the separating couple.
The Family Mediator will help you to consider and explore options for children and financial matters. Proposals can be “reality checked” to see they work for both of you and the children.
If final mediation proposals are reached in Family Mediation this is down to the clients as the Family Mediators do not provide advice. We also do not provide counselling but offer practical approaches on how to resolve family matters on separation. We can however, refer you to professional advisors and counsellors.
In some Family Mediation matters children are also part of the process in separate meetings.
What are the advantages of Family Mediation?
Family Mediation allows you to avoid the inevitable conflict of using solicitors to fight your corner. In Family Mediation you decide the outcomes with your (ex)partner.
Mediation permits parents to continue to co-parent even though they have decided to separate which can help to avoid the bad impact of separation on the children.
Family Mediation allows you both to work together to achieve mutual benefits which can be customised based on what you want to achieve.
Mediation can be much less stressful than going to court and is also a more cost effective option.
Family Mediation is carried out in a confidential and private setting.
How long does Family Mediation take?
Family Mediation normally takes place over several weeks to months.
If the Family Mediation matter is urgent we can also discuss one day Family Mediation which may be required if you have a fast approaching court hearing date.
What can be discussed at Family Mediation?
The clients set the agenda at the start of each joint session.
Common matters clients discussed in mediation:
- Who will be the petitioner and what grounds will be used for the divorce;
- How the future childcare arrangements will be during the week, holidays and special occasions. This may be set out in a parenting plan;
- Interim and long term financial proposals which can include maintenance, child maintenance, house contents and assets and liabilities;
- How to improve communication and trust;
- International relocation;
- At the start of a relationship how to divide assets if you separate in the future.
How will the Family Mediator client know we have all the financial information?
Financial disclosure is one of the stages of Family Mediation.
Each client will have a financial disclosure form to complete along with supporting documents.
Each client will have the chance to see the other persons financial disclosure.
Financial experts and valuers can be involved if the assets are complex.
What if there is a power imbalance between the Family Mediation clients?
Family Mediators are trained to manage power imbalances.
In the joint sessions the Family Mediator will ensure that both clients are heard and do not interrupt each other.
The Family Mediator will check throughout that you both understand what is being discussed and that there is a fair balance between the clients during the discussions.
Does Family Mediation Work?
Yes a high percentage of our clients reach full mediation proposals for children and financial matters.
Is Family Mediation always appropriate?
No, the Family Mediator will ask both clients screening questions at the intake session to determine if Family Mediation is appropriate or if other Family Mediation models need to be considered before arranging a joint mediation session.
I do not want to be in the same room as my former partner what options are there to still mediate?
At the intake session we can discuss “Shuttle Mediation’ with you.
In this Family Mediation model each client will be in a separate room and the mediator goes from room to room to carry each message to see if proposals can be reached.
Sometimes the mediation may start off as a shuttle mediation and for the later sessions the clients may decide to try being in the same room together if progress is being made.
We can also discuss if any Family Mediation special considerations need to be in place e.g. arriving and leaving at different times and the clients waiting in different waiting areas before the Family Mediation starts.
What are some Family Mediation terms I may not be familiar with?
Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) – From 6th April 2011 applicants and respondents in the family courts will have to consider whether mediation will be a better option than proceeding to court. This covers family matters of divorce, including same sex couples, child arrangement matters, parental responsibility and financial settlements after separation.
The session will discover:
- whether your case is suitable for mediation, and
- whether you are willing to try mediation to solve your issues or if another option should be pursued.
If you want to move forward with mediation we will then contact the other person. Once we have met both of you we then proceed to a joint session if this is what you would both like to do and the mediator determines that Family Mediation is suitable.
In the event that we come to the conclusion that mediation would not work or be appropriate we will give you the correct forms (C100, Form A or FM1) so that your application to court can proceed.
- Agreement to Mediate – This is a contract between the mediation clients and the family mediation service which contains the principles on which the negotiations will take place.
- Financial Disclosure – This is the full financial information being given by both mediation parties, which is supported by recent documentary supporting evidence. Each mediation party, including the mediator, will see a copy of these documents.
- Memorandum of Understanding – Once children and / or financial proposals have been reached this can be recorded in a document called the Memorandum of Understanding. This covers all the matters such as what will happen to the former matrimonial home, children arrangement patterns with the parents and the overall financial proposals.
- Open Financial Summary (OFS) – The financial disclosure of both parties is documented.
What is a Separating Parenting Information Programme (SPIP)?
The Separated Parenting Information Programme (SPIP) are workshops for separated parents to attend. The course is designed so that you would not attend the same course as your former partner.
The workshops aid parents to focus on their children and to look at things from the view of the child.
The programme can also be a court ordered activity to inform the parent going through a separation how their behaviour can have an impact on the child. The SPIP aims to reduce any conflict that the child may be experiencing between the separating parents.
Do I need to instruct a Family Solicitor?
This is up to you if you decide to do this. Some clients like to see a Family Solicitor in between mediation sessions to get legal advice and at the end of the mediation process.
How do I make the Family Mediation proposals legally binding?
The Family Mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding form that details the family mediation proposals. There will also be an Open Financial Summary if your matter is financial. It will then be up to the clients if they decide to see Solicitor and take advice on how to make the family mediation proposals into a legal document.