Some frequently asked questions
Do I have to attend family mediation?
No, you don’t have to attend, but if you are separating or divorcing, then you may want to consider family mediation as an option to help you resolve practically, issues relating to your children and/or money. Family mediation is a voluntary process and needs both of you to be willing to attend sessions and negotiate with one another in the presence of a family mediator.
What’s an intake meeting or MIAM?
In April 2011 some new family law rules were introduced. Broadly speaking these mean that anyone who wants to apply to the Court to resolve a dispute about children, money, property or pensions if you are separating or divorcing, should first attend a meeting with a mediator to find out about the process of family mediation. Not all Courts insist on this and you don’t need to attend a meeting with a family mediator if you are making an application to the Court for a divorce. These intake meetings to find out about family mediation are referred to by lawyers, family mediators and the Court as MIAMS (mediation information and assessment meetings). Intake meetings are about an hour in length. We meet with you and your ex partner or spouse separately. During the intake sessions we will assess if your circumstances are suitable for family mediation, tell you about the costs involved, and assess what type of mediation is best for you.
If you decide not to mediate, or you can’t come to an agreement within mediation, some Courts insist on you submitting a form to the Court signed by a qualified mediator before you can then apply to the Court to resolve your dispute. Not all mediators are sufficiently qualified to fill out the form you need called Form FM1, which then enables you to apply to the Court. Our mediator, Tracy Allison, is accredited to carry out the intake meetings and fill out form FM1.
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Do we need to be in the same room to attend family mediation?
We appreciate it may at first be difficult sitting in the same room with your ex partner or spouse. You do have the option of sitting in separate rooms, certainly initially if you wish. This is known as “shuttle” mediation and is often helpful if there have been allegations of domestic violence, whether verbal or physical, in the past.
Will I save money by attending family mediation?
Yes. If you are separating, the same pot of money you both had jointly often gets split into two to pay for two lots of housing and outgoings and this can put you under financial strain. Mediation helps you reach agreements or at least narrow the disputes between you. This helps you reduce your legal fees in cutting down on the number of things you need help from a solicitor about, and the amount of help that you need from a solicitor.
What kind of issues can mediation help resolve?
Family mediation can help you sort out the practical arrangements about what periods of time your children are to spend with each of you. It can help improve communication between you both to ensure consistency of parenting and boundaries for your children.
Family mediation can also help you sort out financial issues in the short term following separation, such as who is going to pay bills and the mortgage, and what level of child support there should be. In the longer term, family mediation can help you resolve where you are each going to live permanently, and what capital assets such as savings and investments needs to be shared out fairly.You may decide to attend family mediation sessions before you issue divorce proceedings. If so, you can agree with one another within mediation what the ground for divorce should be, and who is going to pay for the divorce.
Are the agreements we reach through family mediation legally binding?
No. You will still need a solicitor to give you legal advice throughout the mediation process and to make sure that the agreements being proposed are something that a Court would order and are therefore enforceable.
How long will family mediation take?
Many cases are settled within 2 or 3 joint sessions. You do need to help us though in bringing along to sessions any documentation that you have been asked to find, particularly in relation to financial matters. Sessions can often be a few weeks apart to allow you time to get information together and take legal advice if necessary. Family mediation is often a considerably quicker process than the Court process to resolve issues relating to children and money.
Is family mediation only for married couples?
We can help married or unmarried couples, or same sex couples or extended family such as grandparents through family mediation sessions.