How does family mediation work?

Simplified steps in family mediation

You can seek legal advice at any stage in the mediation process.

Initial assessment

  • A separate, confidential meeting will take place with each of you to explain in more detail what mediation is and how it works. This meeting enables you to ask questions freely about the process and ensure that you understand what it is before you decide whether to proceed. In some cases it may be more convenient to have these meetings on the phone, in which case you would then be seen briefly before the first mediation.
  • You will have the opportunity to explain what the issues are for each of you and your family so that a view can be taken as to whether mediation is the most appropriate way forward. You will be assessed to see if you are eligible for free mediation. If you are not, the costs of mediation will be explained to you. Provided mediation is suitable and you both wish to proceed, a mediation session will then be arranged at a time that suits you both.

First and subsequent mediation sessions

  • You will both need to attend this meeting and generally you will be sitting together in the same room. If you prefer to sit in separate rooms, suitable arrangements will be made so that this is possible.
  • During the first session, you both decide what issues you would like to resolve in mediation. This becomes your agenda. During the first and subsequent mediation sessions relevant information will be gathered to enable you both to make informed decisions, whether relating to finances, your children or other issues.
  • You will explore options together, to enable you both to decide which options would give you and your family the most satisfactory and long lasting solutions.
  • With regards to your children, it is not unusual to struggle with parenting after a relationship has broken down. Parenting is challenging at the best of times. Parenting effectively after separation can present new, sometimes tougher challenges than before. During the mediation, you will discuss and find positive ways of dealing with these challenges together, to ensure that your children make this transition with you, with the minimum of distress. Any arrangements that are made in respect of children should focus on the children as individuals ensuring whenever possible, that their needs and concerns can be met.
  • With regards to finances, the process of gathering financial information can feel daunting. You will be helped in doing this as effectively and quickly as possible. Confusion can be clarified, misunderstandings can be explained and legal information can be provided where necessary. Having explored the possible options you will work towards finding a solution that can work for each of you and the family.

Final session

  • Once you have addressed what is important to you both and to your children and reached joint decisions about how you wish to resolve any parenting or financial issues, your decisions will be incorporated into a formal document for you to retain. As the discussions in mediation are confidential, they are not legally binding on you.
  • The formal document will enable you to take further legal advice should it be appropriate or should you wish to do so. In some circumstances, for example, when resolving financial arrangements as part of a divorce, it is recommended that you ask your independent legal advisors to incorporate your decisions into a document that can then be put to the Court to make your decisions legally binding. This will be discussed with you fully during mediation.