Frequently Asked Questions

Family mediation:

  • gives you more say about what happens. In court a judge will make the decisions. With mediation you and the other party make the decisions.
  • is less stressful, with less conflict between you and your ex-partner. If you have children it is less upsetting for them. It can help find ways for everyone involved to get on better in the future.
  • improves communication and helps you sort out your future.
  • agreements can be reviewed and changed if you both agree – e.g. if your situation changes, and as your children get older and have different needs.
  • is easier on your children when parents co-operate and helps them continue important family relationships.

is quicker, cheaper and provides a better way to sort out disagreements than long drawn-out court battles – helping you to get on with the rest of your life as quickly as possible

  • Parents
  • Divorcing couples
  • Separation
  • Teenage parents
  • Grandparents
  • Adult siblings
  • Parents & adult children
  • Other members of the extended family where communication and/or relationships are problematic

Family mediation can help improve communication, help you make decisions about future arrangements for the children and help you make decisions about property and finance as it affects your separation.

  • When you will see the children
  • Where the children live
  • Holiday arrangements
  • Education
  • Parenting
  • Communication
  • Re-establishing arrangements
  • Maintenance
  • Child support
  • Finance
  • Property
  • Sharing possessions
  • Pensions / Endowments
  • Settling of debts
  • Wills and probate
  • Care of older relatives

  • A safe neutral environment in which to discuss things
  • An organised and constructive process
  • Options for you to explore
  • A lasting agreement for the future

  • Give legal advice
  • Offer counselling or therapy
  • Make decisions for you

  • Improved future relationships - you are able to move forward and make a new start
  • Exploration of all issues - our mediators can help you identify the real issues and guide the discussion in an open and fair way
  • Simplicity - the process is informal, straightforward and constructive
  • Control - you remain in control and as mediation is voluntary you can stop the process at any time
  • Flexibility - unique solutions negotiated to suit each particular case
  • Saves time - and avoids the stress of a lengthy legal process
  • Saves money - Legal costs are kept to a minimum

  • Our experienced mediators come from a wide range of professional backgrounds and are registered with the Family Mediation Council.
  • All have been trained by National Family Mediation or other approved body and participate in continuous professional development.

The average time for "All Issues Mediation" is between 3 and 5 meetings. However, the time needed depends on:

  • Individual circumstances
  • The number and complexity of the issues that need resolving
  • How flexible you can be regarding days/times for appointments

Most sessions last for 1 hour to 1 ½ hours. You will probably need to attend around 2 – 5 sessions over a period of time agreed with the mediator, depending on the number and complexity of the issues that you need to discuss.

Some people find it helpful to have legal advice during mediation.

For example, legal advice may be helpful for:

  • Advising on any legal matter connected with your mediation discussions
  • Advising on the proposal reached through mediation
  • Turning the written agreement into a legally binding document, such as a consent order
  • Supporting you in preparing divorce papers for the court, if necessary You can get legal advice from a solicitor. You can arrange this at any point in the process. It’s important to make sure that the solicitor you choose specialises in family law.

A family solicitor instructed by you will act for you and you alone but will also help you think about how decisions could affect other family members, especially any children involved

If you’re talking about your issues and working to reach agreement through mediation, there is much less need for a solicitor’s time. This means that legal fees can be kept as low as possible.

You may not have to pay for legal help in support of mediation if you get legal aid.

Mediation can be used to try to avoid bringing a court claim, or during a court case to try to shorten it and resolve the dispute before the court makes its decision

Litigation is conventionally used and conventionally accepted, but Mediation is slowly becoming more recognized as a successful tool in dispute resolution. Slowly these processes are becoming inter-dependent, as the Courts are now referring parties to Mediation. In saying this, there are distinct differences between the two processes.

Mediation claims to resolve many of the problems associated with litigation, such as the high costs involved, the formality of the court system and the complexity of the court process. Mediation does not create binding agreements unless the parties consent to it and the Mediator has no say in the outcome. Even though our court system and mediation have increasing connections, they still reflect different value assumptions and structural approaches towards dispute resolution.

Going to court should be a last resort. But if you do need to go to court, you will still need to show that you have either attended a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) or you don’t need to attend a MIAM because of your circumstances. You need to do this by sending a form with your court papers.

The mediator can help you complete this at the first meeting or MIAM.

In some cases, where an exemption applies, you (or your solicitor if you have one) can fill in the C100 form for the court.

In some circumstances financial help to pay for legal advice is still available for family matters; it’s worth checking whether you’re eligible.

You can take your case to court yourself instead of using a lawyer (solicitor or barrister). For most people, the court and the way it works is unfamiliar. So make sure you are clear about the steps you need to take, including what the court will need to have before any hearing. Court staff can’t give you advice but there are other ways to find out what you need to do. You could contact

  • a law centre;
  • an advice organisation such as AdviceNow or Citizens Advice; or
  • the Royal Courts of Justice advice pages.

Or you could have, a short session with a family lawyer or look at helpful information from organisations such as the Bar Council. Find out what help is available for you, including emotional support if you need it.

When looking for advice and guidance, remember:

  • Get advice early if there are any concerns about safety of any party involved in the case.
  • Make sure you understand what the process of going through court might cost you.
  • The court will expect forms or other court documents to be properly prepared and you’ll want to make sure you have a good case.
  • Courts are very busy places and there can be limited time to deal with things. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for the Judge and court staff to help you. So make sure you get an understanding of how the court works.
  • If your ex is using a solicitor, then that solicitor may also contact you. In many cases, this is a helpful part of the process and may help to clarify or even resolve some of the issues before the court hearing. However, solicitors are bound by strict rules about client confidentiality so may not be able to provide all the information you ask for. They also have to check with their client as to whether, if, and how they should respond to any communication from you.