Family Mediation

What is it and Do I need it?

Written by Syeda Hussain, Family Solicitor at Portway Solicitors

What is Mediation?

If you are separating or divorcing, family mediation is a cost effective and simple way of resolving disputes that may arise between you and your ex - Partner, without going through a long drawn – out court battle.

When your relationship has broken down, family mediation can help you sort out practical issues such as arrangement for children – where they are going to live and when you will see them, child maintenance payments as well as sharing finances.

It is a voluntary process, but here at Portway Solicitors, when you come to us, we always recommend mediation as a way forward to help you and your partner resolve issues and try and reach a mutual agreement about children or disputes about finances.  Of, course there will be times when mediation will not be appropriate and we will take you through your options so you can move forward for a better future for you and your family.

A Family Mediator is an impartial, third party person who will listen to you and your ex – partner, explain your concerns and views to each other and help you both reach an agreement.  The Family Mediator are trained to work with people whose relationships have broken down and will help you both find practical and fair solutions.  The Mediator will not tell you what to do but can assist you and your ex – partner in reaching amicable agreements while also attempting to improve communication between you.

Do I have to go to mediation?

Since April 2014, anyone applying to the courts for assistance in resolving disputes about children or finances will be required to attend a meeting Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) first. This includes any applications for:

  • Child Arrangements Order
  • Specific Issue Order
  • Prohibited Steps Order
  • Parental Responsibility Order
  • An order appointing a Child’s Guardian
  • Removal from Jurisdiction Order
  • Special Guardianship Order

How much does mediation cost?

The Mediator will provide you with all the details of fees after your first meeting (MIAM), as Family Mediator fees differ.  However, as a guide for you, mediation prices usually start from around £130.00 for the first meeting (MIAM) with the Mediator.  After this meeting, each mediation is priced from around £150 per session, per person.

What happens when I go to family mediation?

The first step is to attend a meeting with the mediator so you can find out more about mediation and if it’s right for you. This is generally called a ‘Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting’ (MIAM). You can go with your ex-partner, or you can see the mediator separately if you prefer.  After we have referred you for mediation, the Mediator will telephone you to arrange the MIAM meeting.

After the MIAM, if you all agree to try mediation, you will need to attend mediation sessions (usually 1-2 hours each). The length and number of sessions will depend on your situation. When an agreement is reached, the mediator will write it down in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ so that everyone is clear about what has been decided.

Are agreements made in mediation legally binding?

Agreements made in mediation are not legally binding in the sense that they cannot be enforced in court. However, the agreement can be used in court later to seek a Consent order, if both you and your ex-partner agree.

This is sometimes useful if arrangements are meant to run over a period of time, such as child maintenance payments, or if you want something a little more formal to help you both stick to your agreement.

We, at Portway Solicitors can help you with this and assist you with obtaining the Consent Order from Court.

What if we cannot reach an agreement through mediation?

If you cannot reach an agreement with the other participant or mediation fails for any other reason, for example, the other party will not attend or the mediator feels that mediation is unworkable, you may proceed with your dispute to the courts. You must ensure that the mediator signs and certifies your application form.

How long can mediation take?

Mediation can continue as long as the needs of the individual parties involved are met. The first meeting (MIAM) lasts about 30 minutes. Full mediation sessions are typically 1 to 2 hours long, depending on the complexity of the situation.  At your MIAM meeting, the Mediator will discuss how many sessions they anticipate you and the other participant may need.

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