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Family Mediation -  Frequently asked questions

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

HELPING YOU WITH

Can mediation be legally binding?:

  • Mediation is not intended to be legally binding.  It is intended to be a safe environment for problem solving, negotiating and finding solutions together.  The Mediator is not acting as legal adviser but a facilitator of discussions and negotiation, sharing all of their knowledge and experience to help reach informed decisions.
     

  • Mediation is held on a without prejudice basis (confidential) 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
     

  • In certain circumstances depending on your case, sometimes the Mediator can draw up the Consent Order for you, but special rules apply including the consideration of a cooling off period and the option of taking legal advice before signing 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 (for example a mortgage statement)


     

Can Mediation involve children?:

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


     

We argue all of the time in respect of our children, can mediation help?:

  • The Mediator will always encourage the needs of the children to be the foremost consideration.   Emotional and behavioural problems in children are more common when their parents are fighting or separating.
     

  • Whilst the Mediator is an independent, neutral negotiator and not a counsellor, they will usually spend some time reviewing issues from the past that are important to you, but their main focus will be on the present and the future, rather than on the past. 
     

  • Family mediation can be emotional and family mediators will encourage parties to talk honestly about their feelings, but the main focus of mediation sessions is on practical arrangements rather than emotion.
     

  • The Mediator will help you manage behaviour around the children and provide links to resources to assist including:
     

    • Parenting Apart a book by Christina McGhee
      See it differently and collection of videos prepared as part of the voice of the child programme.   www.seeitdifferently.org 

       

    • Our Family Wizard App.  An app created specially for separated parents to help with their communication and arrangements.   www.ourfamilywizard.co.uk
       

    • The Parenting Apart Programme and associated guides and resources
      www.parentingapartprogramme.co.uk    



       

Do lawyers attend Family Mediation?:

  • Usually the parties attend without their Lawyers
     

  • However, in certain circumstances, having the Lawyers attend can be helpful


     

What is the mediation process?:

  • The parties are met individually.   This might be following a referral whereby the parties want to attend and negotiate through the mediation process
    Or the parties may be met individually through the MIAMs process and decide as an alternative to issuing court proceedings they would like to attend mediation

     

  • A first joint session is arranged either by Zoom or face to face, in one room (the usual style) or shuttle mediation
     

  • At the first joint session (or beforehand) the Agreement to Mediate is signed, binding the parties to the process; and the issues and documents required identified.   Preliminary discussions will take place.
     

  • Any further sessions are all about the negotiation, sharing ideas and reaching solutions.
     

  • The Mediator produces summary documents in conclusion:
     

    • The confidential Memorandum of Understanding, setting out the Mediator’s understanding of the matters resolved and the outcome the parties want to implement
       

    • The Open Financial Statement setting out the schedule of financial matters with documents in support to deal with open financial disclosure if a family case; or
       

    • If a children case an outline Parental Plan
       

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