What is mediation?
Mediators are trained to help resolve disputes over all issues faced by separating couples, or specific issues such as arrangements for any children. A mediator will meet with you and your partner together and will identify those issues you can’t agree on and help you to try and reach agreement.
Mediators are neutral and will not take sides, so they cannot give advice to either of you. They will usually recommend that you obtain legal advice alongside the mediation process and will guide you as to when this should happen. However, Resolution trained lawyer mediators will provide general legal information to both of you within the mediation if this is appropriate. Some are qualified to consult with children in mediation.
How does mediation work?
You may contact a mediator directly or your solicitor may refer you. What can you expect to happen?
Not everyone is ready for mediation at the same stage in separating, so the mediator needs to find out whether it is suitable for both of you.
Since April 2011, there has been a requirement (with some exceptions) that anybody wanting to go to court should attend a meeting (called a MIAM) with an appropriately qualified mediator to find out about mediation and other non-court options.
Publically funded mediators will also assess your eligibility for financial assistance and explain charges if you are not eligible. If you decide not to mediate, this stage is necessary if you want to go to court, as the court will expect a certificate from the mediator before you start proceedings.
The mediator will speak to you briefly about the process to ensure you understand how it works. They will then contact your partner and have the same conversation with them. Sometimes mediators prefer to do this face to face rather than on the telephone.
Working out the details:
- Further meetings will be scheduled at which you may work on communication issues, renew arrangements for children, exchange financial information and consider options. The mediator may suggest other help, such as financial advice or support for your children. Between meetings you may wish to meet with your lawyer for advice.
Finalising the proposals:
- Once you have proposals you both find acceptable the mediator will prepare a summary of them together with a summary of the financial information which will be sent to each of you to discuss with your lawyers. After you have both received legal advice and if you are both still happy with the proposals, the lawyers will convert the summary into a legally binding document and oversee any necessary implementation.
Resolution is a member of the Family Mediation Council (FMC), which sets standards for family mediation. From 2015 there will be one professional accreditation standard, set by the FMC, for all mediators. All Resolution trained mediators will meet this professional standard and will be following the FMC guidelines as they work towards their accreditation, giving you confidence that your Resolution mediator meets the highest professional standard.