What is Mediation and Why Should I Go?
What is mediation and why should I go?
There is common misconception that family mediation is like couples counselling. This is not correct. The purpose of mediation is not to try and save the relationship (although of course, if there is any desire to do that, you can be referred to someone who can help). Mediation is about providing an impartial and non-judgmental environment where you can make arrangements with your ex-partner about your children, money, divorce, or all three. Discussions at mediation are confidential and any proposals you make during mediation cannot be relied upon or referred to if you later end up in court proceedings. This is to encourage open discussions without the fear of it being used against you later on.
What is the role of the mediator?
Although many mediators are also family lawyers, their role in mediation is not to advise you (either individually or together) but to structure the conversation and encourage positive communication. This is particularly helpful where conversations between you and your ex usually end in an argument. A mediator is trained in conflict management and can help to reduce the likelihood of tempers flaring; keeping the conversation focused on the things that really matter to you, and getting to the results that you want.
Will I need to see my ex during mediation?
The first session of mediation, commonly known as a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) is a preliminary meeting with just you and the mediator present. This is an introductory session where you can get to know each other a little bit before deciding whether you feel comfortable want to proceed. The mediator will meet with you and your ex separately for a MIAM before arranging any joint meetings, and you will always be made aware if your ex is coming to an appointment.
Generally speaking, it is considered that a joint meeting is most productive. However, if you have concerns about being in the same room as your ex, or there is a history of controlling behaviour or a power imbalance, the mediator may suggest that “shuttle mediation” is more appropriate. This is where you and your ex each sit in separate rooms and the mediator moves back and forth between you. Where there is a significant history of controlling or abusive behaviour, the mediator may say that mediation is not appropriate at all.
Is mediation voluntary?
Yes, mediation is always voluntary and can be terminated at any time. However, in order to reduce the number of cases going to court, it is now necessary to attend a MIAM before you can make a court application for a Financial Order or a Child Arrangements Order.
Do I have to pay for mediation?
Yes, you will need to pay for your own MIAM and the costs of any subsequent joint meetings will be split between you and your ex. If you have a low income or are receiving State Benefits, you may qualify for legal aid for mediation. In this situation, both yours and your ex’s costs will be covered by legal aid, so the process is fair for both of you.
Legal aid for mediation is different and separate to legal aid for court proceedings. In most cases, legal aid is not available for a court application, so it is really worth trying to resolve things in mediation to avoid the costs of going to court.
If you would like further information about mediation, or to get contact details for a mediator in your area, please contact us;