For many people the mediation journey is a step into the unknown. To help you understand the process and how it will benefit you and your family, we have broken it down into four simple stages.
Initial meeting with a mediator (MIAM)
The first meeting with a mediator, sometimes known as a MIAM, provides you with the opportunity to find out how mediation can work for you and your family. This meeting usually lasts between 45 minutes and an hour. In brief, you will discuss:
1. What mediation is, and how it works.
2. Whether mediation or another form of family dispute resolution is right for you and your family. Other forms include solicitor negotiation, collaborative law, arbitration and court.
3. The benefits of mediation and other forms of family dispute resolution.
4. How many sessions you may need.
5. The likely costs of using mediation.
6. Assess whether you are eligible for publicly funded mediation via Legal Aid.
Agreement to mediate
One of the first things that will happen at the first mediation session is the mediator will explain how mediation works and the rules of the mediation room. This is covered in a document called an Agreement to Mediate. Both you and your former partner will be asked to sign this before starting the session. If you would like to see a copy before your joint mediation session, please tell your mediator in your MIAM.
Different types of mediation
The family mediator will talk with you about which are best for your situation.
1. Sole mediation
This is the most common form of mediation where you and your former partner meet with a qualified mediator in one room to jointly discuss potential solutions. On average, there tends to be about three mediation sessions, but it may vary depending on the number of issues that need to be discussed and the complexity of the relevant issues. Sole mediation sessions are generally shorter than shuttle mediation, between 60 to 90 minutes.
This form of mediation involves two or more mediators. It can be used when there are more than two parties involved in a dispute, or where there is more than one issue, requiring different expertise. Co-mediation can also be helpful if there is a high level of conflict between you and the other party.
3. Shuttle mediation
A third type of mediation is called shuttle mediation, and is used when the you and your ex-partner do not want to be in the same room as each other. Instead, a mediator or mediators will ‘shuttle’ between the two rooms in order to negate the requirement of face-to-face communication. Whilst this method does not improve relations, like the other forms of mediation often do, this does provide you with an effective way to ensure safe negotiations. A downside to this method, however, is that it often takes substantially longer than sole and co-mediation.
4. Child Consultations
With this approach, a child can talk with a qualified child consultant mediator. This is on the basis that the child agrees to be involved and that you and your ex-partner agree for this to happen. We assure you that your children will not be asked to make choices or decisions and that parental authority is respected. To learn more click here.
The final outcome
Once the family mediation process has finished, your family mediator will explain to you how you can seek legal advice regarding any proposals that have been agreed and how they can be turned it into a legally binding agreement and/or court order. Whilst proposals regarding children do not necessarily have to be converted into a court order, proposals relating to financial issues often should be. Sometimes an agreement is not found and the mediator will discuss what other options are available, such as arbitration or court proceedings. Although the mediator will never tell you to do something, he or she may suggest consulting with another relevant professional, for instance a pensions specialist, before making any decisions.
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