Family mediation is a way of helping families to reach agreements about what should happen after separation or divorce. It is an increasingly popular alternative to asking the court to make decisions about family issues.
Every day, family mediation helps couples who are in the process of separating or divorcing to decide what to do about the house, the children, the assets, the debts, and can help everyone in the family to establish new working relationships.
In family mediation, you negotiate face to face with your partner about arrangements that need to be made for the future, with the help of one or two neutral third parties – the mediator or mediators.
How is family mediation different to the other options?
How could a family mediator help my family?
I have concerns about being in the same room as my former partner.
The government and many judges believe that more people should use family mediation, to avoid the expense, delays and conflict often associated with going to court.
Family mediation is now an official part of the Family Justice System because most people who want to ask the courts to make a decision about a family issue now have to see an authorised family mediator first, to find out more about family mediation and other alternatives to court. These meetings are called Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings, or MIAMs. If you are not sure whether or not family mediation would be a good option for your family, it is probably a good idea to go to one of these meetings, to talk to a mediator about your personal situation.
What issues can family mediation deal with?
Family mediators come from a wide range of backgrounds. Many are family lawyers, or have at some stage worked as family lawyers. Many come from a therapy or counselling background. Sometimes two mediators from different backgrounds work together, to combine their different specialist skills. All qualified family mediators are trained to work with families in conflict, and have considerable experience in helping families to work together to find practical solutions to their problems.
All FMA members have been trained to mediate the full range of issues associated with divorce and separation, including children, communication, division of capital and other financial concerns. FMA mediators have a particular interest in and commitment to working co-operatively with other specialists – legal, therapy and financial (including pension) experts. Each FMA mediator meets regularly with her or his professional supervisor, working closely with the supervisor to ensure that the FMA’s high standards are maintained.
There are FMA mediators throughout England and Wales. You can find your local FMA mediators by using the FMA’s Find a Mediator service. Many FMA mediators offer special services, so it may be worth thinking about what your family particularly needs from a family mediator before making your choice.
It is very important to find a qualified mediator, whatever their background.
Here are some of the most important questions to ask yourself:
Are you planning to pay for the mediation yourself, or are you entitled to help with payment because you are on a low income?
Do you think it may help for your children to be consulted within the mediation?
Would you like to see a mediator who has been recognised as a senior mediator by the FMA?
FMA mediators will be very happy to talk to you about the different kinds of family mediation that are available, and will be able to advise you about the one that is best suited to you.
Direct consultation with children
Other forms of mediation
It’s important that you feel comfortable with the process. Your mediator will explain how it works before you begin, but here is our overview of how the process works.