Family mediation can help you resolve a wide range of issues. A family mediator, sometimes known as a mediator in family law is experienced in working with families who need to make difficult decisions when their family is going through change. This is often when a couple’s relationship is going through a challenging phase and they are considering separating, divorcing or simply they need to reestructure their current arrangements for child contact. You might ask yourself: “Are there any family law mediators near me?” With Direct Mediation Services, the answer is yes! Our family law mediators cover the length and breadth of England and Wales.
The first meeting you will have with your mediator in family law accredited by the Family Mediation Council is called a MIAM. The four letters stand for Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting. In this first meeting, you will have the opportunity to find out from a qualified family law mediator how mediation works and how mediation might help you.
This is a confidential meeting between just you and your family law mediator. It is important to note that your former partner does not attend this meeting with you, and your family law mediator will not discuss anything said in this meeting with your former partner.
Your former partner will also be invited to have a MIAM with your mediator in family law. This will be under the same conditions as your MIAM, so you must accept that you will not find out from the mediator what your former partner said in their MIAM.
After both of these MIAMs, the mediator for family law will also make an assessment as to whether mediation is appropriate for your personal situation. If mediation is not an option (which might be because your ex-partner refuses the invitation to have a MIAM), the family law mediator is authorised to sign a certificate for the court which will allow you to start court action, if you decide this is the way forward you need to take.
There are two ways you can have your MIAM:
Online: More and more things are done online these days, and family law mediators move with the times too! Many people find that online MIAMs and mediation sessions are much more convenient to fit into their daily lives. Having your MIAM online means we can usually arrange one much quicker – and if you find it difficult to find time during normal office hours, you can even have your online MIAM in the early morning, in the evening, or at weekends for a small extra charge. We can conduct online MIAMs using Zoom, FaceTime or WhatsApp – each of which are quite easy to do, even for non-techy people!
In-person: You might be asking yourself if there are any family law mediators near me. Your meeting will be in a neutral environment, such as the mediator’s office.
How can family mediation help?
There are three main areas that family law mediators can help with:
Separation or divorce is not only a difficult thing for the couple themselves to go through, it is also a particularly unsettling time for their children. They are faced with a big disruption in their lives and have to deal with the fact that one of their parents will no longer be living with them full-time.
There are many difficult questions separating or divorcing parents need to resolve around their children’s care. Who will the children live with and what are they going through and feeling? How will they get to spend sufficient time with the parent who will be moving out? How will the absent parent remain sufficiently involved in decisions around the children’s upbringing, schooling, healthcare needs and important events like birthdays, school and extra-curriculum events? How will the parents share the costs and expenses of bringing up their children fairly – including the often contentious question of paying maintenance?
It is often very difficult for separating or divorcing parents to make these sorts of decisions alongside all the upheaval of the situation with their relationship. Mediation can be an enormous help here. Your family law mediator will help you keep the focus on what is best for your children rather than your own feelings about each other getting in the way.
An important result of your discussions through mediation about child arrangements is often a Parenting Plan. Your family law mediator will help you draft this, setting out what you have agreed you will each do to keep your relationships with your children on a good footing. This will need to be a flexible agreement to be amended as the children’s needs develop as they grow older.
If one of the parents does not stick to the agreement they made, this Parenting Plan can form the basis for an application for a court order to formalise the agreement and make it enforceable against both participants.
Communication between separating or divorcing couples is often very difficult, but it is important for the children’s sakes that they can talk to each other about important things relating to their children without dragging them into an argument and leaving the children having to “choose” between their parents.
How can we minimise conflict? How can we do what is best for our children post separation? Family law mediators can help you work out a framework for how you can communicate effectively with each other moving forward so you can jointly make the best decisions possible for your children.
Sometimes, you might want your children to have a more direct say in what happens if they are old enough, without taking sides with one parent or the other. Mediation can be an excellent way of achieving this, and at Direct Mediation Services we have mediators who have had special training in mediating with children and young people. Your children will never be involved in mediation unless both of you, the children themselves, and the mediator all agree it is appropriate and in the child’s best interests.
For example, one question that you will need to think about either straight away or sometime in the future is how will you deal with a new partner coming into your lives? How will you be able to help your children accept your new partner into your life whilst not undermining the other parent? Mediation can help you prepare both yourselves and your children for this situation.
Financial and property arrangements
The question of how to reset the family finances has to be agreed, and this is another area where a family law mediator can help you manage what can often be very difficult discussions and negotiations.
Family home: What will happen to the family home? If it is owned, probably with a mortgage, it will very often have to be sold. But how should the proceeds be divided? The parent who will be looking after the children most of the time will probably need a greater share of the proceeds – if there is enough left over to buy another house – and have sufficient space for the children’s needs.
Assets: The general rule that the courts would follow is that assets that have been built up during the marriage – e.g. savings, cars/caravans, investments, businesses – should be divided equally. But if either party claim that assets have not come during the marriage, the discussions can get more difficult and argumentative.
Private pensions: It is extremely difficult to accurately value a pension fund, and yet these are often the most significant assets a divorcing couple have, after the value of their house. Another complication is that the money is tied up in the pension fund can usually not be turned into cash for quite a long time. How can you decide what proportion of the total pension funds is fair to allocate to each partner, bearing in mind their needs for the future and how much they can expect their earnings to be in the future?
Earning capacity: It is often the case when the couple has children that one of the parents has taken a break from full-time working to bring up their children. It can take some time for them to be able to return to full-time working so they can be financially self-sufficient. In these cases, the person working full time will often need to pay maintenance to their ex-spouse for an agreed length of time to help them bridge that gap.
Family court applications
Another time when you might need help from a mediator for family law is if you need to make an application to the court. This could be for a Child Arrangements Order, for example.
Before you can start an application in the family court, you must have attempted mediation first. If your ex-partner agrees to go into mediation with you and you both reach an agreement through mediation, this mediated agreement can be used for your family court application. Because your ex-partner has agreed to what you are applying to the court for, it will usually be accepted and turned into a binding order by the court.
However, if your ex-partner does not agree to do mediation, or if you are not able to reach an agreement through mediation, you might decide that you need to apply to the court to make a decision about the things you disagree about. In this case, your family law mediator will give you a certificate confirming that mediation is not appropriate in your case. You can then then start your application to the court.
Costs of family mediation
Family mediation is a relatively quick and very cost-effective way of coming to agreement with your ex-partner on a wide range of issues that they would otherwise find very difficult to cope with without help. Direct Mediation Services charge just £130 per person for a standard MIAM, and £130 per person per hour for subsequent mediation sessions. MIAMs outside normal working hours and at weekends to fit in with your busy working life can be arranged for a small surcharge.
When you consider that many mediations can be resolved in just two or three sessions, this can be a much more affordable solution that the several thousands you can expect negotiations conducted through solicitors to cost, for example, and the anguish and frustration that arise when discussions directly between you and your ex-partner repeatedly end up in arguments and deadlock.
People often ask: “What’s the best way to find family law mediators near me?” The answer is simple. Look no further than Direct Mediation Services! Our mediators are all over the country – and even if there are family law mediators near you but are still a little inconvenient to get to, our online services are the simple and perfect solution for you. Contact us and find out how we can help you resolve the practical issues that go along with a decision to divorce or separate so you can get on with the rest of your life.
Family mediation is an effective way to resolve conflicts and improve relationships. It’s a process that involves a neutral third party who helps families come to an agreement through open communication and collaboration. By considering family mediation, families can save time and money, preserve relationships, and move forward in a positive way. If you’re experiencing family-related conflicts, consider family mediation as a viable solution.
Talk to one of our friendly and experienced team on 0113 468 9593 to find out how we can help you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Issues Can Be Addressed in Family Mediation?
Family mediation can be used to address a wide range of issues, including divorce, separation, child custody, support, and property division.
Is Mediation Legally Binding?
No, mediation is not legally binding. However, if an agreement is reached, it can be turned into a legally binding contract.
How Long Does Mediation Take?
The length of mediation depends on the complexity of the issues being discussed. It can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.
What is the cost of family mediation vs solicitor's fees?
The cost of family mediation is considerably cheaper than employing a solicitor to take your case to court. Family mediation could represent a saving about 75% of the solicitor's fees.
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