Family mediation: what you need to know

Originally published on 22nd January 2024 at 3:44 PM
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Family mediation is an alternative form of dispute resolution (ADR) following a relationship breakdown. It promotes collaboration to agree on making arrangements for children and dividing money and property.

Similarly, amicable is an alternative form of resolving issues following a separation. We help couples agree on how to divide their money and property fairly and help parents work cooperatively to make arrangements for their children.

Our negotiation services differ from mediation, as we also prepare the necessary legal documents for legalising the financial arrangements (through a consent order) and manage the divorce/ dissolution process.

Both amicable and mediation prioritise reducing conflict and avoiding lengthy and expensive court proceedings.

Options for resolving disputes around separation:

  • Mediation ££
  • Negotiation ££
  • Solicitors ££££
  • Arbitration ££££
  • Court £££££

Explore all the options available in our guide here.

What is family mediation?

Family mediation helps separated couples resolve disputes. It’s a voluntary process that is confidential and led by a third-party, neutral family mediator.

Family mediators have varied backgrounds, traditionally in law. You can find an accredited mediator on the Family Mediation Council website.

As with amicable, anyone can use family mediation. However, it may not be the best option for everyone, for example, in cases of domestic abuse, power imbalance or concerns around the safety of the children.

Book a free call with one of our Divorce Specialists to understand the best options for you and your family.

What is the family mediation process?

  • Initial assessment - Both people attend an initial assessment meeting (MIAM) to check whether mediation suits their situation. The mediator assesses the potential for a successful resolution and confirms that both people are willing to participate voluntarily
  • Joint sessions - If both people agree to proceed, joint mediation sessions are scheduled. The mediator facilitates discussions and helps identify common ground, guiding the couple toward agreements on issues such as child arrangements and financial matters.
  • Legal advice - While the mediator can provide general information, they don’t give independent legal advice

Next steps:

  • Making the agreement legal : The mediator can’t enforce any decisions made, so the couple will need to get a consent order drafted and submitted to the court for approval. Mediators don’t tend to draft consent orders, but would draft a memorandum of understanding so the couple can use this to have their consent order drafted elsewhere (such as through a service like amicable or via solicitors). In England and Wales, even when agreements are reached through mediation, the court must approve them to ensure they are fair and in the best interests of any children involved.

What is a MIAM?

MIAM stands for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. It’s the initial meeting to check that both people are informed about their options and help them make decisions well-suited to their situation.

What is ‘shuttle mediation’?

Shuttle mediation is a specific form of family mediation used when tensions or conflicts are high or where direct communication between the couple might be challenging or inappropriate (Ie. In cases involving domestic abuse or intense animosity).

Unlike traditional mediation, where both people are typically in the same room, shuttle mediation involves each person in a separate room. The mediator ‘shuttles’ between the rooms, conveying messages, offers, and responses. This process allows for negotiation and discussion to occur without direct contact.

How much does family mediation cost?

Family mediators work independently, and the cost varies. The average cost is £140 to £200 per person, per session. How many sessions you need will depend on your circumstances and other factors. Most mediators will allow for three sessions, although some people may need more.

Extra costs include having the agreement drafted into a consent order, the court fees and managing the court process. If an agreement can’t be reached through mediation, using separate solicitors and court proceedings will incur more legal fees.

Does family mediation work?

Mediation has around a 69 % success rate ((Family Mediation Voucher Scheme Analysis)) in helping separating couples reach an agreement. Unlike court proceedings, family mediation encourages collaboration rather than confrontation, making it a more constructive and cost-effective alternative.

Alternatively, amicable has over a 95 % success rate in helping couples reach an agreement.

Benefits of family mediation:

  • Low conflict - Family mediation promotes cooperation and is, therefore, less confrontational than adversarial court proceedings
  • Cost-effective - Using a mediator to reach an agreement is more cost-effective than using separate solicitors or going through court proceedings
  • Greater control - You have greater control over the process and outcome in comparison to court proceedings
  • Faster resolutions - You can reach an agreement more quickly than court proceedings that can span several years
  • Future-focused - Mediation is forward-looking, concentrating on finding solutions rather than assigning blame for past issues

Cons of family mediation:

  • Not legally binding - You will still need separate professional help from amicable or solicitors to draft your agreement into a consent order to be made legally binding by a judge
  • Success - Family mediation doesn’t work for everyone. If you’ve tried mediation unsuccessfully, you can still try amicable’s Negotiation Service or failing that, you may have to go through court proceedings

How is amicable different to mediation?

We see separation as an emotional issue with legal and financial consequences. Our approach is centred around a coaching model called GROW, where we help couples make fair arrangements for their unique family circumstances. Unlike mediators, we also draft legal documents and manage the court process. amicable has a higher success rate than mediation and is the experts in working with couples to help them reach an agreement.

How can amicable help?

If you haven’t agreed on your financial or child arrangement issues, amicable’s Negotiation Services can be used as a more effective alternative to mediation. If you already have your agreement, amicable can be used to manage the legal aspects, such as the consent order, alongside mediation.

Remember, if you plan on using family mediation to agree on splitting your money and property, you will still need to have these agreements documented in a consent order and approved by a judge. We offer a Consent Order Service to make your financial arrangements legally binding. Our service costs £900, plus the £58 government court fee to submit your consent order. You can spread the cost across three months and split it between you.

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Speak to an amicable Divorce Specialist to understand your options and next steps for untying the knot, amicably.

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