It might not seem like a time for celebration, but the fact is that divorce and separation is one of life’s biggest crisis points. At the same time it is also an opportunity to put things right and work out arrangements that will help everybody moving forward.
Family mediation is the fastest, cheapest and most empowering way to do this, helping families resolve their practical, emotional and legal issues when relationships break down. As a result, over 70% of people who choose to mediate go on to reach agreements that they can all live with.
During National Family Mediation Week (17th-21st January 2022) a range of events and social media content is being promoted to help people learn more about the process. It is an excellent chance to raise awareness of what is on offer to support people who are separating and divorcing.
As well as facilitating discussions to help you sort out your future, many family mediators specialise in areas such as domestic abuse, international parental child abduction, and financial issues. Some have additional skills and qualifications such as law or psychotherapy.
The majority of family mediation sessions take place face to face in a safe, neutral venue with the mediator present. There is also the option for some sessions to be held via telephone or video conference call if that is more convenient. Mediators are trained to support you through the process, offering you an opportunity to discuss difficult and emotional topics in a calm, structured environment. They will not give you any legal advice, but they can help you to consider the options available to you and the possible outcomes of your choices.
In addition to individual meetings, some mediators offer shuttle mediation (where the parties are in different rooms and the mediator’shuttles’ them from room to room), and group mediation sessions. Often children are invited to attend mediation sessions, where appropriate.
For those considering mediation, it is worth knowing that there is a very good chance that you could qualify for financial assistance towards the costs of the process through the legal aid scheme. This will include the cost of the mediator and some of your other costs such as those relating to childcare or housing. If you are not sure whether you can afford mediation, then it is worthwhile getting in touch with a local family mediator to see what might be available. The first step in this is to book a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). You can find a list of mediators on the Family Mediation Council website and you can search by postcode to find an accredited service near you. If you are eligible for legal aid then the mediator will meet with you both individually to assess your eligibility. If you are not then the cost of the MIAM is normally covered by the other party. national family mediation