Family mediation helps those involved in family breakdown to communicate better with one another and reach their own decisions about all or some of the issues arising from separation or divorce; - children, contact, residence,property and finance.
Mediation is about directly negotiating your own decisions with the help of a third party. It is an alternative to solicitors negotiating for you or having decisions made for you by the courts. Entering mediation is always voluntary.
How does mediation work?
A trained mediator will meet with you both for a series of sessions in which you will
be helped to
• Identify all the matters you wish to consider
• Collect the necessary information
• Talk about the choices open to you
• Negotiate with each other to reach decisions that are acceptable to you both
• Discuss how you can consult your children appropriately about arrangements
What does the mediator do?
The mediators job is to act as an impartial third party and manage the process, helping you to exchange information, ideas and feelings constructively and ensuring that you make informed decisions. The mediator has no power to impose a settlement - responsibility for alldecisions remains with yourselves since you know better than anyone else what is right for your family. The mediator will not advise you about the best option either for your children or your financial affairs, nor can the mediator protect your individual interest.
Four key principles of the mediation process
• It is voluntary
• The mediator is impartial
• It is confidential
• It is flexible
Will I still need a solicitor?
Yes, you will need a solicitor to advise you on the personal consequences for you of your proposals. You will be encouraged to engage a solicitor whom you can consult during the mediation process. At the end of mediation your solicitor will be able to advise you about your proposals and translate them into a legally binding form.
Will we have anything in writing?
At the end of mediation you will usually have achieved a written summary of the proposals you have reached. This is not a legally binding document and you will need legal advice about it especially if you have reached agreement on financial and property issues.
How much will it cost?
Each Service has its own scale of charges. A mediator will also be able to advise you if you are eligible for publicly funded mediation, which is free.
Is mediation suitable for everybody?
Sometimes mediation is not the best way for you to resolve your problems. You will have a chance to discuss this in more detail at your first individual meeting with the mediator.
Is mediation confidential?
Firstly mediation is confidential and courts are also likely to regard the discussions as privileged.
Confidentiality - The Service will not voluntarily disclose to outsiders any information obtained in the course of your discussions without first obtaining your permission (unless it appears there is a risk of significant harm to adult or child).
Privilege - What you say during mediation cannot be used later in court as evidence. But facts disclosed during mediation are regarded as open information and although strictly confidential may be used subsequently in court.
Will the mediator talk to the children?
In mediation you are regarded as the experts on your children and will have valuable knowledge and information about their needs, wishes and views. However there may be times when you both would like the mediator to consult directly with the children about your plans. In those circumstances children would be asked for their specific comments and views on your joint proposals, without having to take sides in any difference of opinion between their parents.
Such a meeting needs careful planning and is confidential in so far as the mediator and children agree what the mediator will say to the parents after the meeting.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Research conducted by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation with Newcastle University identified that three years later couples felt that mediation had helped them to:
End the marital relationship amicably
Maintain good relationships with their ex spouses
Carry less bitterness and resentment into their post-divorce lives.
Be more content with existing child care arrangements and less likely to have disagreements about child contact.
Be able to reach agreement that had survived the test of time.
Be glad they had used mediation.