1. What is Family Mediation? This is a process by which divorcing or separating couples come together to discuss issues that they need to resolve once divorce is over such as financial issues and child contact issues
2. How does the mediation process work? There are different ways of conducting the mediation process, the most common being where you and your ex-spouse sit in the same room with your mediators (usually two) to discuss the issues over a few sessions. If the tension between you and your ex-partner is so great that you are unable to sit together, then there is what is called shuttle mediation, where you are both in different rooms and the mediators work with both of you by moving from one room to the other.
3. Is it for everyone? Family mediation is not for everyone but it is for the vast majority of people. There are however instances where it will be next to impossible to conduct a mediation process such as where there is domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse and serious mental health issues.
4. Do I have to see my ex-partner? No, you don’t have to see or meet your ex-partner during the mediation process. Depending on the centre or place that you meet, there might be different waiting areas and you may work through the process by sitting in different rooms and have the mediators move between the two of you.
5. What role do the mediators play? The mediators are there to work through your issues with you. It is important to not that they are not there to give you any advice nor tell you what to do.
6. What are the principles of mediation?
- Confidentiality: Whatever goes on in the session, remains in the session. What is said cannot be repeated in court or elsewhere. The only time this rule will not be observed is where there is risk of harm to either party or their children.
- Voluntary: You don’t have to attend family mediation if you don’t want to and you can leave at any time. There is no pressure to go through with it to the end, nor into making an agreement.
- Impartiality of mediator: as mentioned above, the mediators are not there to take sides or give advice. Their role is to help you through the process of negotiation, finding solutions and reaching agreements.
- Fairness: the mediators work with you to help you reach agreements and solutions that are deemed fair within the framework of the law.
- Joint decision-making: this is your session and your time, mediators are there to help you both make arrangements and reach decisions that suit you both.
- Mediation is Available to all who want to work in this way but might not be right for all.
- Child-focused: Family mediation helps parents reach a parenting plan that focuses on the needs and views of their children.
7. What are the benefits of mediation?
- You are in total control of the outcome of the mediation process
- Helps parent reach an agreement that suits both of them and also that is suitable for children
- The cost of mediation is considerably lower than going to court
- Successful mediation helps minimise the negative impact of divorce on children.
8. How long does it take? Family mediation takes on average between four and six sessions spread over several weeks or months.
9. How much does family mediation cost? The cost for family mediation vary depending on whether you go private of down the public funding route You can find private family mediators here – NFM. FMA
10. Am I eligible for public funding? This will depend on your capital and income. Your mediator will be able to assess this with and for you. For more information, visit the Legal Services Commission website
11. Do I need a solicitor? How does family mediation fit into divorce? Family mediators can give you legal information but not advice so your mediator might encourage you to consult a solicitor if it is felt appropriate.
12. Is the agreement reached legally binding? The mediation agreement is not legally binding. It is left to you and your ex-partner to put whatever you have agreed on into practice. To make it legally binding, consult your solicitor and get a legally binding agreement to be drawn up.
13. How can I find a mediation service? If you’re in London, speak with me. I am a trained family mediator and work mainly in South London.
There are quite a few family mediation services within the country:
Soila is the founder of The Divorce Magazine and creator of the online course – Helping Children Cope with Divorce
She is known for taking away the pain of trauma and loss in children, adolescents and their families and is the author of “When Love is Broken. A read-together book for children and parents going through divorce and separation.
Soila holds an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from UCL (University College London), is an accredited Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) practitioner and a trained Family Mediator.
Soila is Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society.
You can contact her on 07850 85 60 66 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org