Information Step Step Guide

Going through a divorce, or separation, is one of the most stressful activities that you can possibly undertake.

Mediation: a step by step guide

What is mediation?

Mediation is a way of aiding you to make decisions through mutual agreement with your partner. Many people find mediation to be a very satisfying way of reaching agreement as it involves them taking responsibility for their own decisions, rather than leaving these purely to the legal system. Mediation involves considering issues involving a divorce or separation. This can be during the process of divorce or separation or after this event. There are two main benefits of mediation. Firstly, it is very helpful for children to see that constructive mediation is taking place. Secondly, it is often much cheaper to engage in mediation than to instruct legal professionals,

Who can benefit from mediation?

Mediation is primarily considered to be for parents (whatever their age) and, although this is true of most mediations this is by no means the case for all. Grandparents are frequently involved in mediation proceedings, as are older siblings. In more complex, extended, families, there may be a wide range of parties involved in mediation. Mediation involves a variety of decisions, mainly around property and finance, but also around arrangements involving contact with children.

Areas for mediation

There are a wide variety of procedures that can be successfully mediated. In terms of children and parenting, contact arrangements and residence can be agreed upon. Mediation also covers financial arrangements including maintenance and child support. Related to these are decisions involving property, possessions, debt and pensions and other financial endowments. There are also a number of related issues that can be discussed. Holiday arrangements often appear as an area of contention, particularly for working parents. Note that mediation is not a substitute for legal advice, advocacy or counselling or psychotherapy.

Mediation as a safe space

Mediation is often a ‘third space’ where parents can discuss things away from the home, or a legal, environment. It is a safe and non-judgemental environment in which to think about the various options which are open to you. The process of mediation is considered to be organised so as to enable you to think clearly, and discuss in a rational fashion, the options that are open to you. Fundamentally, the outcome of mediation should be a lasting agreement between you.

The benefits of mediation

Mediation has a number of benefits over other methods. Firstly, mediation is much cheaper than other legal avenues. It also allows you to maintain some kind of relationship, at least in terms of negotiation, with your partner. As mediation is a structured procedure it allows you to consider all issues. Mediators are trained to help clients to consider all possibilities and types of mutual agreement. Unlike complex and obscure legal procedures, mediation is simple and you have control over the procedure (including whether mediation should continue) at all times. There in no standard, one size fits all, outcome to mediation and it is flexible enough to allow for a variety of outcomes.

The mediation process

Initial meetings: an initial meeting involves the mediator meeting you and your ex-partner. They will assess suitability for legal aid. There will always be part of the mediation meeting that involves seeing each client on an individual basis. At this stage we can assess if mediation is suitable for you.

MIAMS: Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMS) are now a formal requirement for anyone applying to court if it concerns children or financial matters.

Joint meetings: Following these meetings, joint appointments can commence where you and your ex-partner will be present.