FAQs

Family Mediation is a way of sorting differences between you and your ex-partner, with the help of a third person who won’t take sides. This third person is called a family mediator. They can help you reach an agreement about issues with children, money, property and/or communication.

At Bright Mediation we can provide the practical help, information and compassion that you may need at this difficult time.

Family mediation is an increasingly popular alternative to asking the court to make decisions about your family – it works by helping you to find practical solutions that feel fair.

Family mediation isn’t about getting back together.  It gives you the opportunity to talk directly to each other with the help and guidance of a trained professional to work out the issues that matter most to you both going forward.

Family mediation is…
  • Mediation is VOLUNTARY
  • Mediators are IMPARTIAL
  • Mediation is CONFIDENTIAL
  • YOU MAKE THE DECISIONS
  • It’s focused on your CHILDREN
  • It’s FUTURE focused
Family mediation is NOT…
  • Counselling or therapy
  • Marriage guidance
  • A substitute for legal advice
  • An opportunity to impose your view on your former partner

The first step is to attend a meeting with one of our mediators on your own. In this meeting:

  • We will ask you about your personal circumstances
  • Give you some information about how mediation works
  • Explain the alternatives to you
  • Decide between us if mediation is right for you

This is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

  • Mediation then typically takes 2-4 sessions, depending on your circumstances. During the sessions, you and your former partner will be asked to explore all of the options available to resolve the issues you have
  • Mediation is not a substitute for legal advice and you are encouraged to have some independent legal advice to help you consider the options available
  • Mediation is a confidential process which means you can feel free to discuss and explore all options, safe in the knowledge that if mediation does not work, any discussions cannot be disclosed in court, which may prejudice your case

No, it isn’t.  You may have heard about compulsory Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs).  New government rules mean that most divorcing and separating couples in England and Wales who want to use the court process must first show that they have attended a MIAM before applying for a court hearing.

However, mediation itself is always voluntary. If you try to mediate, and it doesn’t work, you will not be required to tell the court why, or who decided to end the mediation.

  • It gives you more say about what happens. In court, a judge will make the decisions. With mediation, only you and your former partner make decisions.
  • It is less stressful.
  • If you have children, we can help you discuss issues so that you can parent together in the future.
  • It can help find ways for everyone involved to get on better and to continue with important family relationships.
  • It can improve communication between you and your ex-partner.
  • It is quicker AND cheaper – helping you to get on with the rest of your life as quickly as possible.

Unlike going to court or arbitration, family mediation recognises that you are the experts about your own family and leaves the decision making to you.  Rather than negotiating through lawyers, family mediation allows you to speak directly to each other so that you can explain what you are feeling and what is most important to you.  This lets you focus on the issues that really matter to your family.  Together with your family mediator’s professional and impartial input, you will be provided with legal information and assistance in reality testing your proposals.

Many people find talking to their partner about what should happen after a separation or divorce very stressful and upsetting.  Family mediation can give you a safe place to talk about differences at your own pace.  Family mediators are specially trained to look out for domestic abuse issues and other problems that might make negotiation especially difficult. 

Family mediators will not allow you to mediate if they do not believe you will be safe.  They will also offer you shuttle mediation if being in a room together is too much at any stage.

Many accredited mediators are specially qualified to involve children directly in the mediation process through child consultation which is a meeting between a child or children and a specially qualified mediator.

There are many things to think about when deciding whether or not it is appropriate for an individual child to be involved directly but, with the right preparation, involving children can be very useful.  We use a guide of 10 years old – but it really depends on your own child.  If you are interested in child consultation as part of mediation, please ask us and we will be able to explain more about this.

Here are some of the issues that we deal with every day:

  • Where children are going to live and with whom
  • What arrangements should be made for children to spend time with both parents
  • Communication between parents
  • Health issues
  • Handovers
  • Schooling / out of school activities
  • Holidays and special days (e.g. birthdays, Christmas)
  • Parenting plans
  • Religious and cultural issues
  • Maintenance: who should pay for what, how much and for how long
  • Extended families and friendships
  • Step-family issues
  • Whether a child should relocate to another country and, if so, what special arrangements might need to be made to protect the child’s relationship with any family staying in England (for example)
  • Changes to plans as the children grow up
  • What should happen to the family home, including the mortgage or rental agreement, and what should happen to the contents
  • What should happen to any cars or valuable items you own
  • What should happen to bank accounts, building society accounts or savings
  • What should happen to pensions, insurance policies etc
  • Your divorce.

If you wish to engage in the mediation process, you must first of all attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).  In this meeting, you will be asked to explain your circumstances, the mediator will explain a little about mediation and alternatives available to you, and then between you,  you decide if mediation is appropriate.

It is essential to attend a MIAM before making an application to court.  The mediator will sign the appropriate form for you if you subsequently decide to apply to court.

When you feel ready!
The law says that you must consider whether mediation can help you before you embark on the court process. This means that in most circumstances you need to attend a MIAM.
Even if you’ve been separated for a while or if your case has already gone to court, mediation can help to resolve any issues you may still have. Increasingly the court is including mediation as a requirement in a court order.

After the MIAM, if you all agree to try mediation, a first mediation session will be set up. This will usually be about 90 minutes long, and the number of sessions required will depend on your situation (which we will advise you in the MIAM).

When an agreement is reached, we will write it all down in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ and/or a ‘Parenting Plan’. Agreements reached in mediation can be made legally binding if you both agree. We will provide you with information about this to help you decide.

The Family Mediation Council (FMC) is a not for profit organisation that maintains a professional register of family mediators.

It doesn’t provide mediation itself or recommend a particular provider.

All FMC Registered Mediators are trained to a set standard and:

  • follow the FMC’s Code of Practice
  • hold relevant insurance
  • are required to carry out training and activities to ensure their continued professional development
  • receive the appropriate supervision and support
  • are required to have a complaints process.

The Family Mediation Standards Board (FMSB) is independent of the FMC and operates the FMC’s registration and accreditation processes. It also operates a complaints and disciplinary appeals process on behalf of the FMC.

The Family Mediators Association, established in 1988, is a one of five membership organisations for family mediators. FMA is a lead body and founding member of the Family Mediation Council (FMC), which co-ordinates regulation of and develops common standards for professional family mediators.

The total cost depends on your personal circumstances and how many sessions are needed. Everyone must attend a MIAM, and at this meeting, we will give you an idea of this and the overall cost. The rates that family mediators charge are generally much lower than the rates family lawyers charge. We will be clear at the outset to help you budget accordingly.

Typically family mediation is far quicker and cheaper than going to court.

For more information on costs, click the link below to view our prices.

VIEW OUR PRICES

Legal aid is available for family mediation. To find out if you qualify, use the online Legal Aid Checker at www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid or call the Civil Legal Advice service on 0345 345 4345.

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