What is Family Mediation and how can it help? 

We can help you explore all the issues that arise when relationships break down whether you are married, have co-habited, never lived together or were in a civil partnership. 
Typically the issues will be about: 
Property and Finance 
or both (All Issues) 
At the end of the process you will have a mediated agreement recorded in a document. This document details the decisions that you have both voluntarily agreed upon – mediators never make decisions for you. 
Family mediation works. More than 90% of cases end in a full or partial agreement. 
We offer a cost efficient and value for money service especially when compared to alternatives such as a court or legal dispute. Mediation can also be completed in less time. 
Separation is an emotional and upsetting time for families. Impartial decisions can be difficult to make when communication and trust disappear. Family mediation makes it easier for separating couples to resolve difficult issues without the need to resort to court or costly, bitter litigation. 

What is Family Mediation? 

Family Mediation is a process in which couples who are divorcing or separating meet with an impartial third party to talk about issues which need to be resolved that are a result of their relationship breakdown. 
This is done with the help of an impartial mediator, who allows you to explore your issues constructively and respectfully and is focussed towards a mutually agreed outcome. Family Mediation is an entirely voluntary process for all concerned, and any agreement reached during mediation must be agreed by both parties. 

What are the benefits? 

It enables couples whose relationship has broken down to make decisions in a positive environment. 
It improves communication and reduces the bitterness of separation by allowing both sides to state their case – with both having equal priority. 
It supports children who may be affected by their parents’ separation or divorce by helping parents to make better agreements that benefit them. 
It encourages joint decision making: both parties work together to come to agreements that are mutual, fair and workable. 
Family Mediation seeks practical agreements that are acceptable, fair and workable to both parties. More than 90% of mediations result in some level of agreement. 
Mediated agreements are usually reached much more quickly and processed through court faster than most other alternatives. 

Who can use it? 

Family mediation can be used by any couple or former couple, married or unmarried, heterosexual or homosexual, with or without children, who have decided to separate or who are already separated. 
It can also involve others, such as new partners and grandparents. 
Children can be consulted if both parents and the mediator feel it would be helpful. Participation of children or other adults must always be fully discussed with the mediator first. 

What issues are suitable for Family Mediation? 

How best to separate 
Immediate plans 
Long term plans 
Accommodation arrangements 
Arrangements for children 
Parental responsibility (unmarried parents) 
Child support 
Division of assets and financial support 

How do I start the ball rolling? 

You can refer yourself and your ex-partner directly to us by phone, email or using our referral form and we will book you both in for an initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Your solicitor can also refer you to us. 
Separation is an emotional and upsetting time for families. Impartial decisions can be difficult to make when communication and trust disappear. Family mediation makes it easier for separating couples to resolve difficult issues without the need to resort to court or costly, bitter litigation. 

The Family Mediation Process 

The mediation process starts with individual Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This usually lasts for about 45 minutes. At this meeting you can discuss the benefits of mediation, any of your concerns, the timetable and the costs. 
Once both parties have had a meeting with the mediator and voluntarily agreed to proceed, the next stage is a mediation session. Both you and your ex-partner will be present together with the mediator. Each session lasts approximately 1½ hours. The number of sessions will depend on the circumstances and type of mediation being undertaken. 
After each session you will be sent a ‘Summary of Outcomes’ from that meeting. Once you have reached partial or full agreement, this will be summarised and sent to you, together with any financial summary schedules if there are any Property and Finance matters. This is your document – it is not yet legally binding, but you can take it to a solicitor and have it certified by the court, if you wish to. 
Our mediators are impartial and as such do not give formal advice. 
All discussions in mediation are confidential and no information is passed to anyone outside the service without your permission. The only exception to this is if the mediator has reason to believe that someone, especially a child, is at risk of harm. All discussions in mediation are also legally privileged. 
We can, as part of the mediation process, consult directly with children if both parents and the mediator think that this would aid or inform the process towards reaching an agreement. 
There may be circumstances where the mediator feels that proceeding with mediation would not be appropriate. The mediator will not be able to give an explanation if it breaches confidentiality. 
Family mediation works. More than 90% of cases end in a full or partial agreement. 

Child-Inclusive Mediation with children and children’s issues 

Sometimes, as a consequence of family mediation for child arrangements, it can be deemed helpful to consult directly with the children to assess their wishes, thoughts and feelings. This can be done after the first session with the parents and before the last session. This direct consultation will only happen if both parties to the mediation and the mediator all agree that it would be helpful and add to the mediation outcome. The mediator will undertake the consultation and feedback to both parties at the next mediation session. All our mediators have had appropriate training to undertake this work as well as considerable experience of it. 
There is no hard and fast rule about the appropriate age of children who may be consulted, as each family circumstance may differ. The mediator will want to agree the best approach for themselves and the children with both parties to the mediation. Direct consultation with children is not child counselling and would generally be a single event during, and integral to, the process of family mediation. 
Separation and divorce is usually a painful experience for all involved, particularly the children. Research has shown that the children suffer less harm and cope better with changes if their parents are able to avoid conflict and come to mediation to sort out any contact arrangements. 
If you are separating and you have children you may be concerned about: 
Where the children will live 
How much time they will spend with each parent 
How much contact they will have with other relatives 
How to share school holidays, Christmas, birthdays and special times 
How they are coping with new circumstances and changing relationships. 
Our mediators will listen to your concerns and help you explore alternative courses of action to resolve difficulties, but we will not take sides or make any decisions for you. Our task is to act as an impartial third party, managing the process and encouraging constructive communication. 

Mediation for other Family Issues 

Grandparent issues, adult and child mediation, sibling mediation, family group mediation, step-families mediation. 
The principles of mediation can be applied to exploring and resolving all kinds of problems and situations. Everyone’s situation is different, we treat each case as unique and tailor how we set up meetings to accommodate each case’s particular needs. 
Families are complex and a large variety of issues and situations occur that can cause upset and relationship breakdown. Any ‘family’ problem can be addressed if all parties are prepared to listen to each other and work towards mutually agreed solutions. Some common problems that can be dealt with through mediation are: 
Grandparents wishing to see their grandchildren where the relationship has broken down either with their child or their child’s partner or ex-partner and this has prevented contact taking place 
Parent or step-parent relationship with a child or children has hit some difficulties 
Sibling (child or adult siblings) relationship has become strained or broken down 
Family groups where there are several members experiencing difficulty or where the family need to collectively solve an issue for one member 
Step-families or blended families where the uniting of adults and children requires assistance to adjust to new arrangements that are comfortable and agreed with each other. 
Many problems can be resolved when approached with the aid of an impartial third party who can keep the meeting focused on the issues and moving towards resolution. Where there is discord it is important that people feel that they have an opportunity to state their case, are listened to and have a stake in the outcome. 
Any decisions made in mediation are made by the parties involved, not the mediator. The mediator’s role is to facilitate the conversation. They will not take sides, pass judgement or tell you what to do. The mediator will make sure that everyone is able to contribute to the meeting and that any decisions or agreements are freely entered into. No decisions have to be made on the day, or at all, if it is not appropriate to do so. Mediation is always voluntary so any party can decide to stop at any time. It is also confidential, unless there are risk issues that need to be addressed. The mediator will make the limits of confidentiality clear at the beginning of every meeting. 
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