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?
Mediators listen to find out what is important to you and help you to make your own choices and decisions about the best way forward. They will help you reach practical solutions which work for you, and if you are parents, for your children. You will probably have a number of sessions together with the mediator – three to five one to two hour sessions are common. You can consult your own lawyer at any time, to take legal advice on what is best for you.
When you are both satisfied with the decisions you have reached, your lawyer will then complete the legal formalities.
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.
If you want to go to court you will need to attend a mediation information and assessment meeting (called a MIAM) with to find out about mediation and other non-court options. There are some exceptions to this.
Publicly 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
Meetings will be scheduled at which you may work on communication issues, arrangements for children, exchange financial information and consider your 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.