Family Mediation FAQS
Q: What can be Mediated?
A: Family Mediation extends to discussing matters which arise in connection with debt, division or allocation of income and pension provision.
Family and Divorce Mediation can also extend to how parties formalise their living arrangements, for example if a separation is going to occur, the timing of the separation, whether that separation is informal or recorded formally by way of a Separation Deed or Agreement. Alternatively, whether legal proceedings such as Judicial Separation or Divorce proceedings are envisaged, and if so, who will be the Petitioner, the Respondent, on what basis a Petition is to be issued and how the costs of the proceedings are to be met.
Where Family Mediations involving children can extend to where the children themselves reside, how they share their time between their respective parents and other important people in their lives, who pays for nursery provision, how the children spend their school holidays and what arrangements are to be made for special times throughout the year, such as Christmas, Birthdays and other special events. Education issues can also be discussed and resolved with our mediation specialists.
Q: What Happens Before the Family Mediation Process Begins?
A: Once you have decided to go forward with Family Mediation, We would need to meet with you individually; this is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, (MIAM).
During our meeting we will determine if family mediation will help to resolve your family disputes. We will also explain in further detail what family mediation is, so you have an understanding of the procedure and benefits of family mediation.
If family mediation is not right your situation we will give you information about other avenues and services that you may find helpful based on our experience and expertise. Along with this, we would also assess to see if you’re entitled to receive family mediation on a Publicly Funded basis or if you would have to pay privately.
Q: Is attendance at the Family Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting compulsory before a Family Court application concerning children or finances can be made?
A: Yes, The Ministry of Justice reforms which were implemented on 22 April 2014 see the introduction of compulsory family mediation information meetings so that separating couples must consider alternatives to potentially harmful and stressful court battles when resolving financial matters and arrangements for child contact. This is not to say that couples will be required to mediate, or that family mediation is appropriate in all cases, but rather that they must now consider this as an option. Having attended the information session, clients do not have to start Family mediation.
The purpose of the Family mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is to allow people to make their own informed decisions as to the best way to solve their family dispute. Without the MIAM an informed decision cannot be guaranteed. Research in this country and abroad consistently indicates that 70% of cases settled through Family mediation and the outcomes are more satisfactory, longer lasting, and empowering for couples and their children rather than Court imposed Orders.
It is important to remember that Family mediation itself is not compulsory it is a voluntary process and we will provide you with information about other methods of dispute resolution in-order that you can make an informed decision.
Q: Do people have to attend a Family mediation Information and Assessment Meeting even where there has been domestic violence?
A: Yes, unless the Police have been called out within the last twelve months. However, we offer separate meetings at separate times and an assessment can be made as to whether Family mediation is suitable. Our service will automatically allocate separate meetings for assessments unless otherwise arranged.
In a number of cases where there has been some level of domestic violence, couples feel able to go on to Mediate once they realise that they will be in a safe environment in. Family mediation puts a structure to the discussion and enables negotiations to proceed safely.
We will discuss what measures are appropriate to provide that safe environment. This may involve Family mediation taking place in separate rooms (shuttle) or for there to be separate waiting areas, arrival and departure times.
Q: How will the client’s rights be protected in Family mediation?
A: Family Mediators supports clients instructing a solicitor and obtain legal advice during the Family mediation process. We liaise with the solicitors instructed ( with your permission) in order that the solicitors know the progress which is being made and our Mediators will refer clients back to their legal adviser to receive further advice during the course of the Family mediation process, providing sufficient information to enable that legal advice to be given.
At the end of the mediation process, any agreement reached in Family mediation is not automatically binding. Clients have the opportunity to see their lawyers, who can then advise on the proposed terms.
Our specialist Family Mediators are Lawyer Mediators who can provide legal information within the Family mediation process (whilst not advising them). This helps in achieving an appropriate solution that a Court is likely to ratify. The Mediator is actively involved in assisting the problem solving, information gathering and reality testing of proposals.
It is the Mediator’s role to ensure clients understand the process, the information provided and that they make informed decisions. We also have a bank of external support services to assist where appropriate.
Q: Why Mediate rather than going to Court?
A: Emotional Impact
If clients can problem solve together, with professional support they are better able to deal with the breakdown of their relationship, maintain control over the practicalities of its end and parent effectively as separated parents. It sends a strong message to children that they have handled a difficult emotional and practical change in their life appropriately and taken responsibility for finding a solution. Outcomes reached by clients in Family mediation concerning parenting arrangements are more long-standing and more acceptable to the family as a whole.
We are concerned to help clients learn to manage changes in their children’s lives for the benefit of all concerned.
Delays in the Court system exacerbate the emotional impact of family disputes by prolonging them. Children can be particularly affected by this if their parents are distressed by ongoing litigation. It can be extremely stressful. An average case in litigation is a year. This is a long time in a child’s life. Often when children are of an age and maturity to express their wishes and feelings parents prefer their children to have the opportunity to engage in Direct Child Consultation.
At Midlands Dove Family mediation we have three fully trained All Issues Mediators who are qualified in Child Inclusive Mediation.
We can therefore obtain the children’s views and feed those views back to the parents.
This can be a very powerful process but in our experience is extremely valuable in achieving solutions for the children’s arrangements.
Q: What is the Cost of Family Mediation?
A: Legal Aid: Is available provided you are able to prove and document your eligibility. You can check eligibility by using the online calculator www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid
We are required by the LAA (Legal Aid Agency) to retain proof of eligibility as at the point of our Assessment appointment with you.
- Your Assessment will be free.
- The other party’s Assessment is free (even if they do not qualify themselves!).
- Your Mediation sessions will also be free.
- The other party receives the first session free.
- You can apply for free legal help with Mediation from a solicitor if undergoing a Mediation Process.
Costs of Assessment: If you do not qualify or you do not wish to apply or be assessed for free Legal Aid Agency Mediation.
- An assessment fee is payable for privately paying parties.
- We have a limited number of slots which can be prepaid and booked using our extended hour service.
- Payments for assessments are made at the end the Assessment appointment.
Mediation Session Costs: Payment for Mediation is as easy as 1-2- 3
- We offer fixed fees for Mediation Sessions, in other words
- “pay-as- you-go” Mediation sessions paid at the end of each session
- Our fixed fees include a Mediator’s summary of points covered in session.
- Flexible session lengths are available. We will agree with you session lengths that suit your needs from an hour and a half or half to longer sessions.
- Fixed fees and flexible session lengths enable you to know your costs and plan your sessions around your family finances and other commitments.
If you have full time work and would like earlier or later appointments we can offer offered extended hours (at the absolute discretion of the Mediator) These appointments require pre- payment at the time of booking and are only offered from specific sites.