What is Family Mediation and When Do You Need It?
Updated: Mar 26
What is Family Mediation?
Family Mediation refers to a confidential and flexible process that is used to settle disputes between couples or the parents of a child, it is not the same as relationship counselling.
Mediation involves the appointment of a mediator. A mediator is an impartial and independent person unrelated to either of the parties. The mediator will help the parties to settle their issues, negotiate and come to a mutual agreement regarding the problems at hand.
Who can use Family Mediation?
Family Mediation is generally used by couples or parents who are experiencing difficulties agreeing with each other and making decisions.
Couples can go to mediation irrespective of race, sexual identity, age, faith, disability, nationality, or any other such factors.
It is to be noted that no one can be forced to go for a family mediation.
But, in the case that someone wishes to go to court regarding a family law matter regarding their child (eg a Child Arrangements Order) they must attempt to undergo mediation with the other party prior to filing the application.
This does not apply to situations in which their is risk of harm to either of the included parties, or immediate risk of harm to the child. In these cases, the parties are free to go to court and bypass the required mediation.
What do you talk about in Family Mediation?
Generally, people who want to proceed with family mediation talk about issues they are facing, and attempt to find a path to agree with each other in the presence of a mediator if they were not able to come to an agreement alone.
What are the benefits of mediation?
The following are some of the benefits of mediation;
Mediation provides a means to stay in control. Unlike in court, where the judge reaches a conclusion, in mediation you can decide how to resolve the dispute and are not forced to accept the final outcome if you are not happy with it.
Usually, the mediation process is less expensive and less time-consuming than taking the case to court. Thus, mediation can be seen as an effective and efficient way to resolve disagreements and allow the parties to continue with their lives,
Mediation allows for a supportive and protective environment. The appointed mediator will listen to the person and their view and will talk to them privately. Accordingly, the mediator will guide the person through the mediation process.
Mediation is widely confidential. When a dispute is settled through the intervention of the court, there is a possibility of a public process. However, the disputes can also be settled out of court through mediation.
Mediation can prevent the parties from being locked in an acrimonious court battle which can lead to the total degradation of a relationship. The settlement of a dispute by way of an adversarial court battle adds to the pressure on the relationship between both the parties involved. However, mediation can help you to communicate effectively with each other and reach an amicable settlement that is beneficial for both parties.
Are any agreements made through mediation legally binding?
No, mediation agreements are not legally binding. However, if both the parties agree to make the agreement legally binding via application to the court then they can do so.
One of the advantages of a non legally binding agreement is that it is flexible and it can be changed as per the suitability of the parties involved. However this can also mean that there are no direct legal consequences for the parties involved if they do not comply with the agreement.
What is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)?
The full form of MIAM is Mediation Information Assessment Meeting. It is a pre-mediation meeting between the party and the mediator to find out about mediation and explore the means to find the best solutions to the disputes.
In a MIAM, the following are some of the possible things a mediator will discuss;
What is mediation and how does mediation works
The cost of utilising mediation
The benefits of mediation while resolving the dispute at hand
Whether the party is eligible to get free legal aid and free mediation
Your options going forward
In the case that someone is facing a dispute with their ex or has difficulty settling the separation process, then they should attend a MIAM before the court proceedings.
However, once again, attending a MIAM is not required in case of domestic violence or if there is the possibility of harm to either of the parties.
The basic aim of MIAM is to establish whether mediation could be useful in resolving your difficulties instead of than going to court.
When is Mediation Necessary?
Mediation is a voluntary process until and unless there is a pre-contractual agreement to mediate.
At an early stage of court proceedings, the parties involved have the obligation to consider if the disputes can be settled by Alternative Dispute Resolution.
From April 2014, anyone applying to the courts for assistance in resolving disputes about children or finances will be required to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
When is Mediation Not Necessary?
Mediation is not necessary when the parties involved settle the issue among themselves amicably, or when there is an immediate risk of harm to any children involved or either of the parties.
How long can mediation take?
It can take a couple of mediation sessions for both parties involved in mediation to come to an agreement, however this of course depends on how much eachparty needs to compromise in order to reach an agreement.
Sessions can happen once a week, however these details will be discussed and established by whichever mediator you choose to use.
What is the cost of mediation?
The cost of mediation depends on the complexity of the dispute and the type of mediation. The cost of mediation is generally decided by the mediation provider. Therefore, it is difficult to provide the cost as it differs from case to case.
However, if you are on low income or are on government benefits you may be eligible for a reduction in mediation costs.
What if we cannot reach an agreement through mediation?
If the parties fail to reach an agreement through court order mediation or one of the parties flat out refuses mediation, the mediator will have to report this to the court.
They will report this to the court via a certificate which will be issued by the mediator stating that the attempt at mediation was unsuccessful. The certificate must be signed by an accredited family mediator.
It is to be noted that the “confidentiality rule” will be applicable too. Although the parties fail to reach an agreement, they may still continue to try to settle the case.
The principle of confidentiality is about privacy and respecting someone's wishes. It means that professionals shouldn't share personal details about someone with others unless that person has said they can or it's absolutely necessary.
How do I access mediation?
If you have come to the decision to get mediation, the next step would be to go to an accredited family mediator and explain your situation to them.
Once they have understood this, they will be able to guide you in the next steps going forward and you can go from there.
How We Can Help You?
We at Court Help Limited are specialized in family court matters and are able to draft statements and applications. Our legal team has rich experience and knowledge to assist you in the documentation and paperwork involved in such cases. Apart from mediation, we also specialize in various family law matters such as child custody, divorce settlement, domestic violence, etc.
In case you are facing any such issues concerned with family law matters, do not hesitate to contact us. You can read our reviews here. At the bottom of the page, there is a Quick Contact Form, you can fill it out or email us at email@example.com or call us at 07375757510.
Note: This article is not meant for a piece of legal advice and must not be treated as legal advice.