Family Mediation FAQs

How is family mediation different to other options?

Family Mediation:

  • is to help find solutions for when relationship breakdown
  • It is a way of helping the parties reach agreements with a spouse or partner about their future apart, their children, home, assets, debts, sharing of income and pensions
  • it recognises that the parties are the experts about their own family
  • It leaves the decision making to the parties
  • Provides an experienced and specially trained Mediator to guide the parties through their discussions, sharing their knowledge and experience, to make sure the parties cover all of the options available to them and reality testing to consider whether they work in practical terms
  • Helps parents, focus together on the needs of the children
  • Allows the parties in certain circumstances to speak directly to each other under the management of the Mediator to enable the parties to both explain what they are feeling and what is most important to them
  • Helps the parties take ownership of their decisions and establish new working relationships fair to themselves, each other and their children

Is Family Mediation compulsory?

  • No, family mediation itself is entirely voluntary and the parties or the Mediator can terminate the mediation, if they try to mediate and it does not work out.  The Court is not told why the mediation broke down or who decided to end the mediation.
  • However, the Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) are compulsory (since 2011) for cases whereby the separating couples in England and Wales want to use the Court process to resolve their issues in respect of children or money
  • The purpose of the MIAMs process is to give the parties (prior to issuing at Court), an opportunity to find out whether going to court would be the best way of resolving those issues and, in particular, whether mediation could be an effective alternative.

Who can conduct a MIAM?

  • To be able to conduct a MIAM and counter-sign the Court application as Mediator, the Mediator has to be Accredited with the Family Mediation Council (FMC) and hold an unique URN number
  • For a Mediator to become Accredited they must:
    • Satisfy their suitability to train as a Family Mediator. Usually with a background in family law or a counselling background with at least five years’ experience
    • Attend and pass assessment on an initial training course approved by the FMC (usually 5 to 8 days)
    • Complete all post training requirements including 10 hour face to face consultancy with Professional Practice Consultant (PPC), post training reviews, observation of one mediation session, conducting as sole mediator three all issues mediation through to conclusion and submission for marking a portfolio
    • The Accreditation needs to be renewed every three years

Can mediation be legally binding?

  • Mediation is not intended to be legally binding.  The Mediator is not acting as legal adviser and cannot produce legally binding documents
  • Mediation is held on a without prejudice basis in respect of all negotiations and outcome and requires the parties and the Mediator to sign an Agreement to Mediate accepting these terms and agreeing that the Mediator cannot be called to give evidence in court
  • The Outcome Report by the Mediator is without prejudice and is called a Memorandum of Understanding.  It is this document that is used by the Solicitors to draw up the legally binding documents, such as the Consent Order
  • Certain aspects of the mediation are not treated as confidential and this is the “open” evidence to support such as financial disclosure

Can mediation involve children?

  • If the Mediator is trained to meet with children and if the mediation is suitable there can be a Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM)

Do lawyers attend Family Mediation?

  • Usually the parties attend without their Lawyers
  • However, in certain circumstances, having the Lawyers attend can be helpful – but is not the normal approac

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