Mediation Awareness Week: How does family mediation work?
How does family mediation work?
Family mediations works by you and your ex meeting with a professionally trained mediator. The aim is to work out mutually agreeable arrangements for issues arising from your divorce. This can be issues such as finances and arrangements for children.
Often it is too difficult to come to agreements on your own.
Emotions are running high, and often separating couples feel less reasonable than normal. Hurt and anger can be the motivating factors which stop practical discussions.
Using a specially trained mediator can help.
They don’t take sides.
They help you to reach a decision together that you consider fair.
What is the family mediation process?
Firstly, you will attend an appointment known as a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). You will discuss your case and be given further information about mediation. You will also be told about other options available to you.
A legal aid assessment will be carried out to let you know if your MIAM and mediation are free.
After you and your ex have both attended a MIAM (either together or separately), and decided with the mediator that it is appropriate for you, you can book your first mediation session.
First Mediation Session
This is often called the planning meeting. You will both sign a confidentiality agreement. Ground rules will be created and agenda for negotiation agreed.
You will both be asked what you would like to achieve through mediation. Any common ground between you both will be explored.
Note that the structure of mediation may differ depending on your starting point (be it children or finances).
Second Mediation Session
‘All issues mediation’ and ‘finance and property mediation’ second sessions are used for financial disclosures.
You will be asked to bring all financial information to this session ensuring all documentation is copied. You retain original and create one copy for the mediator and one for your ex-partner.
You need to provide financial information on all assets and liabilities, as will your ex. This will enable you to see what needs dividing up.
It may be that not all the information can be gathered for this second session, so more sessions may be allocated to this.
If you are only dealing with child arrangements this will be discussed, options created and negotiation will take place. This is for things such as child maintenance payments, where children will live and with who, when and where they will see parents etc.
The focus will be on what is best for your children. You may ask your mediator to talk to your children separately.
How many further sessions are needed will depend on the type of mediation. Plus, also it will be dependent on how the negotiations go.
After each mediation session, your mediator will create a document that summarises discussions and note if any agreements have been made. This will be given to you before the next session.
How long does family mediation take?
Again, this depends on the type of mediation.
Excluding the MIAM:
- Child arrangement mediation
Typically 1-2 sessions of 1.5 hours
- Finance and Property mediation
3-4 sessions of 1.5 hour duration
- All issues mediation
On average, up to 5 sessions of 1.5 hour length
Do I need a lawyer for divorce mediation?
Mediators don’t give legal advice. Nor can they create formal documentation for you. Therefore, it is advised to see a divorce lawyer too.
You may feel you need this along the mediation process.
You may also wish to seek financial advice.
Is family mediation legally binding?
No it is not.
You use mediation to reach mutually agreeable arrangements. These are written as Outcomes Statements or Memorandum of Understanding.
Research suggests that agreements reached in mediation often last longer and achieve better outcomes for everyone involved.
If you want legally binding agreements, you can take you Outcomes Statement or Memorandum of Understanding to a lawyer.
Only the court can make agreements legally binding.
It may feel daunting facing an unknown process.
Perhaps all you have heard is of people going to court.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.