Mediation - your questions answered

We asked National Family Mediation your mediation questions and they have provided us with the answers. So kick back and have a good read - because this article contains every bit of information you could ever wish to know about mediation.

If you're going through separation or about to, then visit our Sorting Out Separation app. Help get yourself organised and get a plan. click the link on the right of this article.

Q: If I am trying to get access to my child, will the court make me attend mediation?

National Family Mediation:

The current pre-application protocol which applies in court will ensure that the person applying to the court for contact with the child will be obliged to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to find out more about mediation, discuss their situation with the mediator and have the opportunity to decide whether it might be an option for them. Currently this obligation does not exist for the respondent, but the new Children and Families Bill currently going through Parliament will ensure that both the applicant and the respondent have to attend a MIAM.

Please note that even though the court might order you to attend a MIAM, they will not force you to mediate with the other parent. This is a decision that is made by you, the other parent to the child and the mediator. Mediation is a voluntary process and will only work if both parties feel that it might work to resolve their dispute.

 

Q: Do I have to get referred to mediation?

National Family Mediation:

No, you can contact the mediation service yourself if you prefer. It is not necessary to be referred to mediation through another agency (like CAB, your GP, social services etc.) a court or a solicitor. Many more Mediation clients are now accessing mediation through the self-referral route.


Q: Do I need to take anything with me to mediation?

National Family Mediation:

Usually the mediation service that you are engaged with will send you correspondence which details the date, time and venue of your appointment, what documents you will need to bring with you and what you can expect from the upcoming sessions. For the introductory meeting, you will usually have to bring documentation which we will use to assess whether you will be eligible for legal aid or not. This means that the mediator will assess to see whether you can receive your introductory meeting and your mediation for free (paid for by government via legal aid). If mediation goes ahead, the mediator will contact you prior to every session with the documentation drafted up from the previous sessions (excluding the introductory session), the list of documentation to bring to the next session, as well a note of your discussions and any agreements made.

 

Q: What does a mediator actually do?

National Family Mediation:

Mediators are professionals with a wealth of skills and experience in family mediation and conflict resolution.  Our video which explains exactly what a mediator does.

Mediators do not tell you what to do in the mediation process, nor do they give advice. They are impartial facilitators who assist you and the other parent to make decisions and help you reach your own agreements concerning all aspects of your separation or divorce e.g. children, finances, property etc.

 

Q: What happens during mediation?

National Family Mediation:

The process of mediation is divided up into 3 stages:

  • Introductory meeting  – This is the opportunity for you to meet with a mediator, hear more about the mediation process, and have the opportunity to discuss your situation to find out whether mediation would be an option for you. A separate meeting is usually organised for you and the other parents, however, on some occasions a joint meeting is organised, where each client will be seen separately for a time. It is at this meeting that each of you has the opportunity to decide whether you would like to go ahead with mediation. The mediator will also have the opportunity to assess whether mediation is appropriate in your situation.
  • Mediation – The mediation process is there to help you reach your own agreements concerning all aspects of your separation or divorce e.g. children, finances, property etc. Freely negotiated agreements can help restore communication, understanding and trust. Mediation that covers issues relating to child arrangements usually takes about 2-3 sessions. Mediation that covers only finance and property issues, usually takes 3-4 sessions and all issues mediation, which covers finance, property and children usually takes between 4-5 sessions, depending on the complexity of the case. Each session is usually 1.5 hours long. The mediator will assist you to set the agenda at the beginning of each meeting which will assist to focus the negotiations. When dealing with finances, the first couple of sessions will be focused on the financial disclosure which will give you an indication of how much is in the pot in order to develop options of how this will be divided after separation. The mediator might also advise you to seek legal or other financial advice alongside the mediation process.
  • Conclusion – The mediator will draft an outcomes summary or memorandum of understanding at the end of the mediation which will details all of the agreements made. This can be taken to a solicitor who will use it to the draft a consent order (a court order which ensure that the agreement is legally binding).  This is not compulsory, but you can together consider whether this might be a useful step to take.

 

Q: I have been told that a mediator is as expensive as a solicitor, so what is the point?

National Family Mediation:

Mediation services charge different rates. It is important that you do your homework on costs before deciding on which mediation service to use. Please be aware that National Family Mediation operates a not-for-profit network across England and Wales, which means that our charges are considerably less than our private mediation service counterparts. The majority of our services charge clients on a sliding scale according to the client income. Please note that legal aid is also still available for mediation, so if you are eligible for legal aid following an assessment done by the mediator, you might have your mediation paid for by the government.

 

Q: Do we have to attend more than once? How many sessions are involved?

National Family Mediation:

Mediation starts off with an introductory meeting which will allow you to discuss your situation with the mediator and have the opportunity hear about mediation and make an informed decision about whether mediation is appropriate for you. This usually lasts about 45 mins – 1 hour.
The number of sessions you and the other parent will attend will be dependent on the complexity of your case.

  • child arrangements mediation usually takes about 2-3 sessions.
  • finance and property issues mediation usually takes 3-4 sessions
  • all issues mediation, which covers finance, property and children usually takes between 4-5 sessions.

Each session is usually lasts 1.5 hours

 

Q: Is an agreement made during mediation legally binding?

National Family Mediation:

No it isn't. However, you can use the documents drafted at the end of mediation, called an outcomes summary or memorandum of understanding, to allow a solicitor to draft a consent order for you. This is more cost-effective because you are only using a solicitor for a small part of the process. The government is also funding the drafting of consent orders through the 'legal help for mediation' scheme. Your Solicitor can access this by asking your mediator for a CW5 form. It is well evidenced that mediated outcomes are cheaper, quicker and longer lasting, especially when it comes to arrangements for the children.
 

Q: Is it only access that we can reach agreement on or can we discuss other things like maintenance?

National Family Mediation:

You can bring any dispute to mediation. This includes issues to do with your property, whether renting or owned, finances including stocks, shares, savings, business portfolios, heirlooms, child or spousal maintenance, debts; children's arrangements like who the child will stay with, when each of you will see the child, and other issues like pets or household items. Together you and your ex-partner will set the agenda, so nothing is too small or too big to mention and discuss. Please note that the terms ‘access’ and ‘custody’ are no longer used. You are more likely to hear ‘contact’ and ‘residence’.

 

Q: My friend attended a MIAM. What is it and what happens?

National Family Mediation:

A MIAM is a ‘mediation information and assessment meeting’, otherwise known as an introductory meeting to mediation. This is the first phase of mediation. The MIAM provides you with the opportunity to meet with a mediator, hear more about the mediation process, and have the opportunity to discuss your situation to find out whether mediation would be an option for you. A separate meeting is usually organised for you and the other parent, however, on some occasions a joint MIAM is organised, where each client will be seen separately for a time, but the meeting is conducted with both of you in the room. It is at this meeting that each of you has the opportunity to decide whether you would like to go ahead with mediation. The mediator will also have the opportunity to assess whether mediation is appropriate in your situation.

Prior to a MIAM, the mediation service will most likely send you correspondence outlining the details including date, time and venue of your meeting, information about the mediation process, and will set out a list of documentation you should bring with you to your first meeting. This is usually documentation we will use to assess whether you will be eligible for legal aid or not. This means that the mediator will assess to see whether you can receive your introductory meeting and your mediation for free (paid for by government). 

After you and the other parent have attended a MIAM, you will be contacted about progressing with mediation. If you choose to go ahead with mediation, the mediation service will book you into your first joint appointment usually called a planning meeting.


Q: My wife's solicitor has picked a mediator - am I allowed to pick someone else or do I have no choice?

National Family Mediation:

You always have a choice about where you would like the mediation to take place. It might be that your partner attends an introductory meeting at the mediation service that her solicitor has picked for her; however, you can decide to have your introductory meeting at whichever mediation service you like. However, if mediation is appropriate and does go forward, you will have to agree with your partner about where you would both feel comfortable attending the mediation sessions. As all mediators are impartial, it shouldn’t matter who has made the referral because you should be treated equally.

 

Q: What happens if my ex doesn't want to take part?

National Family Mediation:

Mediation is a voluntary process which means that people can make an informed decision about whether they want to partake in mediation or not. It is advisable that both parents attend an introductory meeting which informs them about the mediation process, what they can expect, and it provides them with the opportunity to discuss their situation with the mediator, receive important information about the separation process and have the opportunity to ask any questions.

It is also currently compulsory for the applicant to court to attend an introductory meeting (called a MIAM) under the pre-application protocol. Sometimes a court might order one or both parents to attend a MIAM at the first hearing or during the court process to give them the opportunity to resolve their dispute outside of court.

 

Q: I have heard that if my ex doesn't want to budge from her position or compromise that I will have to just give in, is this true?

National Family Mediation:

This is definitely not true. Mediation is about putting all the issues on the table, and developing options about how the dispute might be resolved and then negotiating an agreement based on the options. Yourself and the other party will discuss the issues together, develop the options together and negotiate an agreement together that will ensure you both have your say, have the opportunity to be heard and then make informed decisions. The mediator is only there to facilitate the discussions, but will assist you to reality check all of your proposed options. They will also ensure that both parties are satisfied with the agreements in place before drafting the necessary paperwork. It is important that you feel satisfied with any arrangements that are made in mediation, because they are your arrangements at the end of the day and people only usually stick to something they have had a part in agreeing to.

 

Q: My ex won't even obey a court order so how would mediation help in my situation?

National Family Mediation:

Research tells us that people are more likely to stick to an agreement where they have been part of the decision making as opposed to being told what to do by a Judge. The mediator would also be looking to find out why your ex-partner did not stick to the Court Order. It may be that you can, with the help of the mediator, sort out the problems which are preventing it from working. You don’t get the chance to do this in Court. It sounds in this situation like you have nothing to lose by trying it.

 

Q:I want any agreement between my ex and me to be legally binding, so she can't back out of it - I have heard that mediation isn't, is this true?

National Family Mediation:

Yes this is true. Our experience is that if both parties complete the mediation process, they very rarely back out of it. This is because their views and concerns have already been incorporated into the agreement so it is in their interests to stick to it.

Documents drafted at the end of mediation, sometimes called an outcomes summary or memorandum of understanding, can be drafted into a consent order by a solicitor to make them legally binding.  This is more cost-effective because you are only using a solicitor for a small part of the process. The government is also funding the drafting of consent orders through the 'legal help for mediation' scheme. Your Solicitor can access this by asking your mediator for a CW5 form. It is well evidenced that mediated outcomes are cheaper, quicker and longer lasting, especially when it comes to arrangements for the children - so mediation is the best way to discuss, negotiate and make agreements without the hefty price tag attached.

 

Q: My friend has said that when he had mediation it seemed like the mediator was on his ex-wife’s side and that he was being ganged up on. Why should I bother trying it? 

National Family Mediation:

A qualified mediator (ensure that the mediator is accredited by the Family Mediation Council – check the credentials) is impartial and does not take sides. This is one of the basic principles of mediation. If at any point of the mediation you feel like there might be a power imbalance or that the mediator is taking sides, you can ask to speak to the mediator separately to discuss this (a mediator will then give each party equal time in a separate capacity to address this, so as to ensure impartiality).

 

Q: I found mediation to be a complete and utter waste of time. The mediators were rude and quick to disregard anything I said. I felt as if I wasn't being listened to. Why should I consider it again?

National Family Mediation:

You will always have the choice to continue mediation or not. The same goes for your mediator. If you are unhappy with the service being provided, you can go through their complaints procedure and maybe ask the mediation service for another mediator or visit the National Family Mediation website to find another mediation service which might be in your vicinity. It is also wise to do your homework before embarking on using a mediation service. Check out their credentials i.e. are they a member of the Family Mediation Council (FMC), does the mediation service use FMC accredited mediators, have they had adequate training etc.? The cost of one mediation service might differ considerably to another. It is important that you feel you are receiving a professional and impartial service.

 

Q: I am taking my ex to court for parental responsibility and an access order. Most people on the forum suggest going to mediation before court. But how will mediation help when she is refusing to give me parental responsibility? Nobody is going to convince her to give me parental responsibility so I don't see how it could work. Also we are not in disagreement about the level of access, but verbal agreements have broken down before and I want added security.

National Family Mediation:

Any court and judge will have expected you to at least have tried mediation to resolve your dispute out of court before attempting to venture down the court route. Under what we call the pre-application protocol, an applicant to court will be required to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM). This gives you the opportunity for you to meet with a mediator, hear more about the mediation process, and have the opportunity to discuss your situation to find out whether mediation would be an option for you. It is at this meeting that you will have the opportunity to decide whether you would like to go ahead with mediation. The mediator will also have the opportunity to assess whether mediation is appropriate in your situation. The other parent will also be invited to come along to an introductory meeting. As of April 2014, it will become compulsory for them to attend this meeting too. If either of you or the mediator decides that mediation will not be appropriate after this, the mediator will provide you with a form which says you have attended a MIAM and will allow you to proceed down the court route.

It seems that in this case, it might be helpful for you and the other parent to discuss mediation as an option to formalise the verbal agreements made about contact with your child(ren). It is always helpful to have any arrangements recorded. An Outcome Summary written by the mediator, can be turned into a consent order or in this case a ‘Contact Order’ by a solicitor and approved by the Judge to make it legally binding.  This is more cost-effective because you are only using a solicitor for a small part of the process.

The government is also funding the drafting of consent orders through the 'legal help for mediation' scheme. Your Solicitor can access this by asking your mediator for a CW5 form. It is well evidenced that mediated outcomes are cheaper, quicker and longer lasting, especially when it comes to arrangements for the children.
 

Q: Had mediation last week which resulted in no progress whatsoever. She dodges questions or doesn’t answer them. The mediators have congratulated us on our perseverance which is a joke as it’s got nowhere at all due to her. She says one thing and does another............Have found mediation to be a waste of time - What can I do to make this work?

National Family Mediation:

Mediation is a voluntary process which means that both parties have to take responsibility to engage in the process. The mediator also is not able to tell parties to mediation what to do or how to engage as this will jeopardise their impartiality.

Unfortunately there does come a point where if mediate does not reach its ultimate objective in facilitating for parties to come to a satisfactory and acceptable agreement about some or all of the issues in dispute, then you might want to consider other options, like solicitor negotiation, collaborative law or court. However, these can be quite expensive and lengthy processes.

If you are due to attend another mediation session, it might be wise to state exactly how you feel so that it can be openly discussed. It may be the mediator can get to the bottom of why your ex-partner is not taking part. Our experience tells us that when real concerns are addressed, people will put a lot more effort into making an agreement work and sticking to it.
 

Q: My other half recently attended a MIAM to attempt to get mediation started after his ex stopped contact (he's not seen his kids for 7 weeks after usually seeing them twice every week for 8 years). The mediators have sent letters requesting her to attend. She has refused to attend, what do we do now.

National Family Mediation:

If she has refused to attend mediation then it is unlikely that mediation will proceed. You partner might decide to try solicitor negotiations instead or apply to court for a Contact order.

However, if a decision is made to go to court, your partner will be able to ask the mediator for an FM1 form which will allow him to apply to court for contact with the children. The court only usually considers an application to court once they know that the applicant has attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) or introductory meeting to mediation, and has considered mediation as an option.

Once they are engaged in the court process, a judge can then decide to order both parents to attend a MIAM (under an order which is known as a contact activity). The court might also decide to direct both parents to the Separated Parents Information Programme (under an order known as a contact activity) which is a 4 hour course designed to assist parents to better co-parent following separation by focusing on the needs of their children. Mediation is discussed as part of this course.

Because your partner has already attended a MIAM, he might not have to do this again, but it is likely that the other parent will have to. Once both of them have had the opportunity to attend a MIAM, both of them and the mediator will decide whether mediation is appropriate. It is, however, advisable that they try to resolve this dispute out of court, as it can be an expensive (both emotionally and financially), adversarial and lengthy process.

 

Q: I am pretty certain that mediation is not the route for me to go down, I am not keen to waste money on mediation classes with my ex

National Family Mediation:

This sounds like you have misunderstood what mediation is. You will not be sent on any classes. Quite the opposite – in mediation you as the parents are treated as the experts because you know your family and their needs better than anyone else. Mediation is designed to help you stay as separated parents who can work effectively together to parent your children in a new business-like relationship. You can attend an introductory meeting with a mediator to discuss your situation, find out more about whether mediation can help you and also look at the costs. It may be you are eligible for free mediation via Legal Aid and you will be assessed for this at the introductory meeting. Even if you are not eligible for free mediation, it is still significantly cheaper than negotiating via Solicitors especially if you end up going to Court.


Please note that this Q&A provided by DAD.info in partnership with National Family Mediation contains general information about sorting out your separation. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. You acknowledge that, because of the limited nature of such communication, any legal assistance you may receive using any such facility is likely to be incomplete. Any legal assistance or information you may receive using any such facility does not constitute legal advice and accordingly should not be relied upon

 

nfmnfmNational Family Mediation is the largest provider of family mediation in the UK. We deliver family mediation and support services across 500 locations. Our professionally trained mediators, experts in conflict resolution and family law, assist families affected by breakdown and specifically, couples affected by divorce / separation to make joint decisions about their finance, property and long-term solutions for their children.

We recognise that you want to focus on your children but this may be a challenge with all the other responsibilities that come with separation. Mediation encourages parents affected by separation to collaborate (where appropriate), as it highlights the benefits to children when parents working  together, which include ;

  • Children do best when parents work together, they’ll be healthier, happier and do better in school with two parents supporting them throughout their childhood
  • Your children want to know they matter to both of you, so its better when you both collaborate to make things better for them

Family mediation is also cost-effective, quicker, provides for longer-term resolution and has better evidence-based outcomes than the often costly (emotionally and financially) stressful court route.

Hide comments (24)

Comments

  • Guest
    Trinity Chambers Wednesday, 24 June 2015

    Trinity Chambers

    Hi there! We found this FAQ article was very interesting; the National Family Mediation has covered a lot of important factors. Thanks for sharing!

    Price is often a cause for concern for many, but – as NFM have correctly stated in your article – mediation services charge different rates. However in comparison with going to court, it is often far cheaper and a less stressful experience. We recently wrote a blog on how mediation can be a cost effective solution. Take a look: http://goo.gl/InuvX2

    Reply Cancel
  • Laura
    Laura Saturday, 12 March 2016

    Miss

    As a fiancé am I entitled to attend mediation? They will be staying in my home and acroding to the ex she is adamant and demanding my finances come into it but my say doesn't?

    Me and my fiancé are at wits end with the harassment and bulling of it being her terms and her terms only as its ruining her new relationship if we don't.

  • DAD.info Team 1
    DAD.info Team 1 Wednesday, 08 June 2016

    Dear Laura

    Thank you for your comment - although I sympathise with your difficult situation, unfortunately I am unable to answer your question directly. However, if this is still an issue and the mediation people have not been able to help, you could try the Family Rights Group or Citizens Advice for help - links below.

    http://www.frg.org.uk/

    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

    All the best

    DAD.Info Team

  • david
    david Tuesday, 12 April 2016

    I am divorced and my x agreed to finance settlement but now has changed her mind after holding d81 draft consent order for 5 months without completing it or signing it . Why should I trust someone who has changed their minds and whilst on this matter why shoukd I have to pay when she can claim legal aid. Ii know for a fact that she claimed illegally working tax credits so why should I go down this route. The children are now adult.
    I think its a control issue and the finance form is not rocket science to complete to which I have and returned some months ago so have nothing to hide

  • DAD.info Team 1
    DAD.info Team 1 Monday, 06 June 2016

    Hi David - thank you for your comment above. How are things going - do you still require any help or advice regarding your situation.

    Kind regards

    DAD.Info Team

  • Guest
    david gale Tuesday, 19 April 2016

    I'm sorry after reading these blogs and also actual admittance that mediation is not working and that only 1 in 20 go ahead with it I am of notion that is is a waste of my time.
    I also note that this is targeted at people who deploy legal aid as another quick fix government initiative that protects their pot. Upshot is in my case my wife is getting 70/30 split plus potential of my pensions yet still 5 months on wont even complete declaration draft on what her finances are?
    It does not need nor take mediation and for one of your comments to say that party does not like taking order/judgement from judge is ridiculous. If D81 completion is law of the land and judge ruling that is but a stupid comment to make

  • Guest
    Bobby Thursday, 21 April 2016

    Ex asked for mediation

    My ex asked for mediation weeks ago I attended the intro session to resolve although I'm happy with the plan we have. I had to take time off work but wanted to understand why I was asked to go and do what is best for both the ex and our kid.

    Turned out ex hadn't bothered to go themselves or respond to their own mediation request!
    Ex has not attended and when I ask on contact day if they want to go ahead The ex avoids it. Do I leave it or can my ex just keep requesting random requests whenever they want.

    If they attend initial session and take me to court will this be taken into consideration?

  • DAD.info Team 1
    DAD.info Team 1 Monday, 06 June 2016

    Thank you for your comment - it would be really helpful if you could post your question on our forum - the link is below:

    https://www.dad.info/forum/index

    This is a great way for our community of Dads and our experienced moderators to be able to help you.

    I hope that helps - if not please come back to us.

    Kind regards from the Dad.Info Team

  • Guest
    Epang1 Wednesday, 04 May 2016

    Mediation meetings have concluded and agreement made but ex refusing to provide pension info (CETV) for former employers

    Mediation meetings have concluded and agreement made but ex refusing to provide pension info (CETV) for former employers. We were formally divorced over 15 months ago but hadn't completed financial settlement. Mediation sessions had taken place and final clean break agreement made between July and December 2015. Final agreement made but ex refusing to provide pension info (CETV) for former employers. I 've been chasing via text and phone but its met with either refusal to reply or casual promises but nothing materializes.

    I've got a solicitor who is willing to do the consent order and submit to court but we're awaiting CETV and can't proceed without it. What can be done and will this affect outcomes further down the line?

  • DAD.info Team 1
    DAD.info Team 1 Monday, 06 June 2016

    Thank you for your comment - as with the previous comment above, please could I point you towards our forum page.

    Many thanks!

    DAD.Info Team

Leave your comment

Guest Saturday, 21 January 2017