Mediation is a term that people often hear – but what is it all about? What is family mediation and can it help you in your situation?
This article will answer some of the questions about family mediation matters you might have been wondering about.
What is meant by family mediation?
Mediation is a way of helping people come to an agreement between themselves on difficult and emotive topics. It does not necessarily have to be about family matters – arrangements about when your children see each parent after they have separated, or financial arrangements, for example – but these kinds of conversations are very difficult to have and this is where mediation can be a great help.
The mediator is absolutely impartial and unbiased. They are not on the ‘side’ of one or the other of you. Their focus is on helping you have the discussion between yourselves and come to an agreement you can both live with. The mediator will not make the decisions for you or tell you what you have to do
My ex and I really do not get on. Will family matters mediation really help?
It can be really difficult to have these conversations at the best of times, let alone with the extra tensions caused when a relationship breaks down. It only too often happens that you can’t stop a conversation with your ex turning into a shouting match and it becomes impossible to discuss things in a rational way, or agree on something.
Mediation can be a real help here. Our family dispute mediation mediators are excellent communicators and very skilled in defusing tense situations and setting the conditions for both participants to have their say in a calm, non-threatening environment.
The mediation process starts with the mediator having a confidential, one-to-one meeting with each of you in which they will explain the process to you and find out what outcome you hope to see from mediation. This meeting is known as the Mediation and Information Assessment Meeting, or MIAM.
After these meetings will come the mediation sessions, if all participants agree they want to try and come to an agreement through mediation. The two of you and the mediator will discuss the issues together and the mediator will help you keep your discussions focused on what needs to be sorted out – as calmly and respectfully as possible.
If you find it impossible to be in the same room as your ex, one family mediation service we can offer is shuttle mediation. You will not come face-to-face with your ex; instead, the mediator will ‘shuttle’ between you and pass messages between you. It can sometimes be the case that once you have found areas you can agree on, it is easier for you to finish off the discussion face-to-face, although the mediator would never force this situation on you if you were uncomfortable.
Is family mediation just for couples getting divorced?
Not necessarily. Sometimes other people – for example, grandparents or other extended family – might be concerned about the prospect of losing touch with the children when the parents split up. It is often very difficult for grandparents in particular to have these sorts of conversations when couples are separating. Family mediation can be a very good way for other family members to keep involved with the children in these cases.
Isn’t it easier just to go straight to court and let them sort it out?
Going to court should be the very last resort. The courts expect you to have made every effort to resolve your issues yourselves before turning to them. In fact, in most cases you will not be able to start court action, unless you have attempted mediation or some other form of alternative dispute resolution first.
Also, the court process is very long and drawn out, extremely stressful for all involved and can end up costing a lot of money, especially if you have to employ solicitors to prepare and present your case in court. You will have to abide by the court’s decisions and orders even if you do not like them or agree with them. Mediation can help you come to an agreement much quicker, at a fraction of the cost, and you are much more likely to be able to accept the outcome because you will have had much more say in it.
How much does mediation cost?
We charge £130 per person for the MIAM meeting and £130 per person per hour for the mediation sessions. You will often be able to come to a mediated agreement in two or three sessions. Court action, on the other hand, can cost many thousands of pounds and drag on for many months, even years.
If you are on certain types of benefits or working but on a low income, you might qualify for Legal Aid, which would pay all the costs of your mediation, and also your ex-partner’s MIAM and first mediation session.
Mediation can be an immense help for separating couples who need to have difficult conversations between themselves about family arrangements after they separate. We can help you talk to each other to sort out important issues, like how you will maintain contact with your children, without it becoming an argument or a shouting match. We offer a family mediation service across England & Wales and can even do the whole process with you online if that is more convenient.
Talk to one of our friendly and experienced team on 0113 468 9593 to find out how we can help you.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is family mediation?
Family mediation is an impartial way of helping people come to an agreement between themselves on difficult and emotive topics, such as child contact and financial arrangements.
How does family mediation work?
The impartial family mediator has a separate, confidential, introductory meeting with each of you where they explain the process and find out what outcome you hope to see. If all of you (including the mediator) agree to proceed, you then have one or more mediation session where you discuss your issues work out your solutions with the mediator’s help.
Can we have family mediation online?
Yes, this is a service we are happy to offer.
Is family mediation more expensive than going to court?
No, on the contrary, mediation is likely to be much cheaper and quicker than going to court. We charge £130 per person for the MIAM meeting and £130 per person per hour for each mediation session. If you cannot afford this, you might qualify for Legal Aid which will pay for your sessions. Legal Aid is not available for court actions.
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