Family mediation

Is for people who:

  • Are finding it hard to talk to their child’s other parent directly
  • Want to improve communication about the child
  • Don’t want to go to court
  • Want to find a way to reduce conflict
  • Want to find a fair way to take the child’s views into account.

What happens in mediation?

In mediation the types of things you can discuss are:

  • Agreeing contact; how much time children will spend with each parent and how this will work,
  • including the little details that can make such a big difference
  • Where the child will live
  • Financial support for your child
  • What will happens to the family home
  • The division of assets and debts
  • How other finances, like pensions, savings and investments will be split.

Family Mediation allows you to reach your own decisions about child arrangements rather than having a Judge decide for you. For this reason, mediated agreements tend to work better in practice and last longer.

In Family Mediation you sort out family arrangements over a number of joint meetings. The focus is on providing a safe and fair environment with the aim of moving forward and reaching agreement, and not on deciding whose fault it is. The mediator is not on anyone’s side and will help you to negotiate an agreement that takes account of the whole family’s needs. Before an applicant makes an application to the court for a child arrangements order in relevant family proceedings, the applicant (or the applicant’s legal representative) should contact a family mediator to arrange for the applicant to attend an information meeting about family mediation referred to as a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

Mediation can promote better quality communication between you and your child’s other parent. It also helps to establish a sound foundation for continued good parenting.

If you are thinking about mediation:

You may be eligible to receive legal aid for the MIAM and for any family mediation sessions you decide to take part in. If at least one parent is eligible for legal aid for mediation, the Legal Aid Agency will pay the cost of the MIAM and fund the first session of mediation for both parents. For more information, visit Family mediation can be quicker, cheaper and easier than the stress of going to court.

At the assessment

The mediator will explain what mediation means and help you decide if it is right for you. At the assessment meeting the mediator can also check to see if you are eligible for public funding.

You can choose to have a joint assessment meeting with your child’s other parent or to have a separate one. If you both choose to have a joint one, you should still be seen separately for a part of the meeting.

When you start mediation:

If you both decide mediation is right for you, a joint meeting will be offered. This will be the first of two or three meetings you will both attend to make plans for your child.

During mediation:

If you are mediating over child issues the mediator will help you make plans for contact arrangements. You can decide what you want to discuss and how much detail is needed. The mediator will also help you communicate better with your child’s other parent about your child.

When you reach agreement:

Once you have both reached agreement, the mediator will write up the details for you. You may be able to have your agreement turned into a legally binding child arrangements order.

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