What is mediation?
Mediation is a form of assisted negotiation. Mediators focus on creating the right conditions for the negotiation. The parties themselves decide which issues need to be discussed and the terms of any agreement.We may recommend that you take independent legal advice in support of the process. The aim of mediation is to build practicable realistic solutions that meet everyone’s needs.
How does mediation work?
Mediation doesn't have a set agenda. Whatever issues you wish to discuss – for example, children, finance or property - the mediator will help you set the agenda for discussion and any agreement that folllows.
You can benefit from mediation at any time after you have made the decision to end your relationship. Some people appproach us before initiating divorce, but mediation can still be useful years after if there are unresolved issues. Publicly funded mediation is available to anyone involved in a private family law case that would otherwise go to court, so if you think you could be eligible, please contact us.
What is the process?
Stage 1 - Contact
Our mediation service can be accessed at any time during and after the separation or divorce process. Initial contact can be made by one or both partners, by a solicitor, or by a family member such as a grandparent. Many extended family members welcome the opportunity to become involved and yet in the past the court system has left them feeling excluded from the process.
When you first contact us, we will explain the process in more detail and answer any questions you may have. We will:
- Provide information about fees and the availability of public funding to cover them.
- Make an appointment for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (see below)
- Help you to find other services you may need, including legal advice in support of the mediation process
- Discuss with you how best to approach the other party
Stage 2 - Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
These are confidential private meetings that give you the opportunity to discuss your situation with the mediator, determine your eligibilty for public funding to cover your costs, and decide whether mediation is right for you. These meetings last up to 45 minutes, usually at one of our offices – click here for a list of locations.
Stage 3 - Mediation sessions
As mediation is a voluntary process, this next stage can only happen if both parties agree to it. These sessions last up to 90 minutes and although every case is different, we can normally reach full agreement in one to four sessions, depending on the complexity of issues involved. The mediator will advise you of the information you will need to gather and at what stages to take legal advice, so the mediation sessions will be planned around this
Stage 4 - Documentation and Agreement
The mediator will produce an outcome summmary at the end of each session. This will be shared with your legal advisor (unless you specifically request otherwise). For child-only cases, this may be all that is needed. It is not necessary to obtain a court order if you are able to reach an agreement yourselves.
For finance and property issues, you will need two important documents. The Open Statement of Financial Information sets out the full details of the financial disclosure on which your financial agreement is based. The Memorandum of Understanding is an explanation of your proposed final agreement. Both documents may be shared with your solicitor, who would then translate these voluntary agreements into a legally enforcible court order. We work closely with a number of solicitors who provide this service - click here to see a list. For non publicly funded clients, there is a specific charge for each of these documents.