Why choose family mediation?
Family mediators are there to help you to reach decisions about things that are important for you and your family. They can help you to find a way to plan for the future and to agree what will work best for you without having to go to court. That can save you time, money and stress.
Mediation provides you with the space and time to think about what is most important for your children and for the whole family. You can work out how arrangements for your children will work best and think about what is going to be important for your children as they grow up.
Regardless of whether you are a parent or not, mediation can help you deal with your money, the options you may have about where you will live, and planning your future finances.
When should I try family mediation?
Contact a mediator as soon as you need help sorting things out. Even if you’ve been separated for a while, or if your case has already gone to court, mediation can still help to resolve things.
You can’t usually take your case to court until you find out if mediation can help you first. If you can’t show that you’ve considered it, the judge may stop or delay proceedings until you have.
Once you’ve found a mediator, the next step is to attend a first meeting with them to find out if it’s right for you. Sometimes this is called a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
If you think you need legal advice to help you during mediation, this can be arranged at any time during the process. You might be able to get legal aid to pay for this.
If your case is not suitable for mediation you will still need to show the judge you’ve considered it by filling in the relevant court form.
What is a MIAM?
The first meeting with a mediator is often called a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Whether it’s called a MIAM or a first meeting, it will cover the same things.
The first meeting with a mediator gives you the chance to find out how mediation works. Mediators are trained to work out with you whether mediation is right for you and your family. They will also discuss how many sessions you may need, how much they would cost, and explain whether you might get legal aid to pay for mediation.
The mediator can also give you information about other services that provide help and support and the other options you might have to resolve things.
Who can conduct MIAMs?
Only Family Mediation Council Accredited mediators (FMCA) can conduct MIAMs.
Do I have to go to a MIAM?
If you want to take your case to court, it is now – in most cases – a legal requirement to attend a MIAM. The other person involved is also expected to attend a MIAM, but they don’t have to go to the same meeting as you.
There are exemptions that mean you might not have to go to a MIAM. It can also be agreed at the MIAM that mediation isn’t right for you. There are a range of options available for resolving family disputes so, even if mediation isn’t right for you, court isn’t the only other option.
Who goes to the MIAM meeting?
These meetings can be held separately from your ex. However you can go to the meeting together if you prefer. You can choose. Time will always be spent with each person alone to make sure they have made their own decision to come to mediation and are not at risk of any harm or abuse.
How much does a MIAM meeting cost?
The first meeting, and mediation sessions which follow, may cost you nothing if you get legal aid. The mediator will help you work out if you can claim legal aid.
Our fees are subject to VAT and charged per person, per session and are paid in advance of your meetings
Our MIAMs cost £65 for a single appointment (£78, including VAT) and £60 for a joint appointment (£72 including VAT)
We charge an admin fee of £25 (£30, including VAT) for signing, where appropriate, court forms.
What happens after the first (MIAM) meeting?
If everyone agrees to try mediation then an appointment is made for your first mediation session.
If you decide not to continue into mediation or it’s not suitable in your circumstances then the mediator will have to sign the relevant court form to show you have considered mediation. This means you can take your case to court, if that’s what you decide to do next.
Mediation meetings (aka sessions)
If the first meeting (MIAM) goes well and you all agree to try mediation, you will book mediation sessions. It usually takes between three and five meetings to come to agreement, depending on what you need to sort out.
The mediator will usually see you and your ex-partner together, although you should be offered the choice to see the mediator separately if you need to.
What does a mediator do?
Mediators are trained to:
- Listen and help you both to work out what has to be dealt with.
- Discuss what your options might be and what might work best for the future.
- Make sure you both have chance to speak and be heard.
- Provide any legal information needed to help your discussions or confirm when you need to consult a family lawyer.
- Tell you when you might need further independent advice on matters such as pensions.
- Ensure decisions are made jointly, are fair for both of you, for any children involved, and for your family circumstances.
When you reach agreement, the mediator will put it in writing and make sure you’re all clear about what it means.
Are the decisions we make legally binding?
The decisions you reach aren’t legally binding on their own. But you can ask a court to make what you’ve decided into a legally binding consent order. Your mediator can explain what this is and how you can get a consent order.
There is a cost for this court application and your mediator will be able to provide information about this. If you get legal aid you may qualify for free legal advice and help with this.
Can I get legal advice on whether the proposed agreement is fair for me?
Most people going through mediation find it helpful to have legal advice to support them. You can arrange this at any time and your mediator may also recommend you do if you are talking about things that relate to a legal issue. The mediator can give you information about local family solicitors and how to choose one. If you get legal aid for mediation, you may also get free legal advice during mediation.
What if things don’t go as planned afterwards?
If your situation changes and the arrangements aren’t working, you can go back to the mediator to change the original agreement.
If the court has made your agreement into a legally binding order and somebody doesn’t follow it, you should consider whether the problem is capable of being sorted out with the help of a mediator. If you think it cannot, you may wish to go back to the court to ask for the order to be enforced.
Can my children be involved in sessions?
All mediators are trained to help parents to think about the ways they can support their children. They can also provide information about how children can be supported when parents separate.
Some mediators are also qualified to see children and young people separately as part of a parental mediation process.
The Family Mediation Council’s Code of Practice requires that all children and young people aged 10 and above should be offered the opportunity to have their voices heard directly during the Mediation, if they wish. Your mediator will explain exactly how this might work and whether it is appropriate when you meet to consider offering your children the opportunity of consulting directly with a mediator.
What does mediation cost?
We charge per session (not per hour) and for mediation sessions we apply a ‘sliding scale’. See our Fees page.
At your first (MIAM) meeting, the mediator will be able to give you an estimate of how much mediation is likely to cost, based on their understanding of what it is you hope to deal with. They will also help you check if you can get legal aid to help pay for it.
Can I get legal aid?
If you’re on a low income you may be able to get legal aid to help pay for one or more of:
- The Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM)
- Mediation sessions
- Legal help in support for mediation
If your case isn’t suitable for mediation, in some circumstances you might get legal aid for other sorts of legal help.
Legal aid may be available to one or both of you and each person will be assessed separately. Even if only one person qualifies for legal aid, both will have the fee for the MIAM and the cost of the first full mediation session covered.
When do I need to go to court?
There are a number of ways of dealing with family matters without having to make an application to court.
- A divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership can only be granted by a court but this can be done without actually going to a hearing at court.
- For many people, sorting out arrangements for children and agreeing how to split property and finances can be done without involving a court at all.
If you can’t work things out between you or have a family dispute, you will be expected to try to sort it out using mediation before going to court.
What if I do need to go to court?
Going to court should be a last resort. But if you do need to go to court, you will still need to show that you have either attended a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM) or you don’t need to attend a MIAM because of your circumstances. You need to do this by sending the relevant court form with your court papers.
The mediator can help you complete this at the first meeting or MIAM.