Taking legal advice following a relationship breakdown you will often hear “mediation” mentioned. What is it? How does it work? Why should I go to mediation? And how do I find a mediator?

Mediation, is a form of “alternative dispute resolution”, i.e., a means of discussion and negotiation that takes place in an attempt to reach an agreement and avoid an application to the Court.

Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings

The Children and Families Act 2014 made mediation or rather more formally a “Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting” (commonly known as a MIAM), a requirement for a prospective applicant before applying to the Court.The thinking is that if an agreement can be reached then that may avoid the need to involve the Court and thus avoid contested proceedings.

At a MIAM the mediator will provide more information about how mediation works and will assess whether it is suitable for your particular case. Although not all mediators offer it, Legal Aid is available for mediation.

If the mediator assesses that mediation is suitable and you are both willing to go ahead then meetings are arranged for the two of you and the mediator.

Generally, the mediation sessions take place with you both in the same room with the mediator but some mediators offer “shuttle” mediation whereby you sit in separate rooms and the mediator moves from room to room. In some situations, this can be more appropriate.

The mediator will discuss with you both the issues in your case and help you to resolve them together. The mediator is neutral and therefore does not takes sides, does not give advice and does not make a final decision. It is down to the two of you to reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The role of the mediator is to facilitate the discussions and assist you.

Mediation is generally used to resolve financial disputes following the end of a relationship or disputes with regard to children, such as who a child will live with and how much time they will spend with the other parent.

Mediation & Your Children

Some mediators are also trained to offer “Child Consultation” meetings whereby the children are involved in separate meetings with the mediator in which they are given an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings.

Depending upon the situation the mediation process can take more than one session and it is quite usual to seek legal advice as and when it is needed during the mediation process. This may be between meetings or at the end once the agreement has been set out in writing by the mediator with a view to discussing any steps that need to be taken to put the agreement into a binding legal document. Alternatively, if you have been unable to reach an agreement it is a good idea to take further legal advice as to your options.

You can find a mediator local to you here.

Contact our Child Law Solicitors, Basingstoke, Reading, Portsmouth, Guildford, Salisbury & Southampton

We are a down to earth firm of family law experts, with a friendly, human approach to legal services. We provide fair and workable solutions that put families first, with a particular focus on child law, we advise on all areas of family law, including financial disputes, prenuptials, divorce, separation and dissolution of civil partnerships. We are accredited members of the Law Society Children Panel and Resolution.

For guidance and representation on your family issues, speak to one of our team. Child Law Partnership have offices in Guildford, Basingstoke, Southampton and Salisbury helping families across Hampshire, Surrey, Wiltshire, Reading and the surrounding areas. We offer a fixed fee initial appointment where you can receive full advice with a follow up in writing in order that you can consider your options. Give us a call on 01256630080 or complete our enquiry form.

Child Law Partnership have offices in Basingstoke, Guilford, Southampton and Salisbury serving clients across Hampshire, Surrey and Wiltshire.

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