Family Mediation

This article describes the family mediation Twickenham procedure, when mediation is required, and the anticipated qualifications of a family mediator.

What is the nature of mediation?
With the assistance of a neutral third party, families can negotiate future arrangements for their children through the mediation process. The mediator does not tell the parties what to do, but assists them in reaching their own agreements peacefully while attempting to strengthen their communication.

What advantages does mediation offer?
When parents have difficulty agreeing on adequate arrangements for their children following a family breakup, mediation is advised. There are several advantages to participating in mediation, including:
•    allowing you greater authority over child-related choices, rather than requiring you to go to court;
•    giving a less stressful method for handling delicate problems;
•    enhancing communication and assisting you in planning for the future;
•    facilitating the review and modification of agreements as long as both parties are in agreement; and
•    expediting and reducing the cost of settling conflicts.

Are agreements reached through mediation legally enforceable?
The agreements reached through mediation are not legally binding in the sense that they are not enforceable in court. However, the agreement can be utilised in court if a Consent Order is sought at a later date. Refer to our page on Consent Orders for further details.
MIAM stands for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.
A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is the initial meeting with a professionally trained family mediator to determine whether your concerns may be handled outside of court and whether mediation is a viable solution.

What will occur during the mediation?
The mediator will assist you and the other parent in working through all of your difficulties, considering your alternatives, determining whether they would work well in practise, and settling on the best course of action. If you do not feel comfortable in the same room as the other parent, the mediator can arrange for “shuttle” mediation. In shuttle mediation, the disputing parties are separated into separate rooms, and the mediator “shuttles” between them in an effort to assist them to an agreement.
If an agreement is achieved during mediation, the mediator will draught a “memorandum of understanding” so that all parties are aware of the terms.

Do I need to attend mediation?

Since April 2014, anybody seeking assistance from the courts to resolve conflicts with children or finances must first attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting. This includes any requests for
•    Child Arrangements Order
•    Particular Issue Order
•    Steps Prohibited Order
•    Parental Obligation Order
•    A court order naming a child’s guardian
•    Order Removing Jurisdiction
•    Order for Special Guardianship
Certain mediation exemptions are stated in Part 3 of the Family Procedure Rules and can be found on forms C100 and FM1.

Exemptions include:
•    where there is domestic violence in the relationship;
•    if the child is the subject of a child protection plan or an inquiry under Section 47;
•    if the situation is urgent, i.e., the youngster is in imminent danger;
•    where mediation was sought during the previous four months;
•    if the applicant lacks appropriate contact information for the responder.

What should I anticipate from my mediator?
A family mediator must maintain impartiality and prevent any potential conflicts of interest. This indicates that a mediator is prohibited from mediating a dispute in which they have obtained pertinent information about the parties. In addition, a mediator must maintain impartiality towards the mediation’s conclusion.

They may not attempt to impose their desired conclusion or exert undue influence on any of the parties.
You must also expect the mediator to keep all information gathered during the mediation session secret. Without the approval of both parties, the mediator is prohibited from disclosing any information to the court. The mediators may only provide information where severe claims of damage to a child or adult are present.

Mediation is a voluntary procedure, and any mediation session can be delayed or cancelled if it is determined that the parties are reluctant to participate completely. Additionally, mediators must encourage the parties to consider the desires and emotions of the children.
How long does mediation typically last?

Mediation can continue as long as it fits the requirements of each individual party. The duration of the first meeting is around 45 minutes. Sessions often run between one and two hours, depending on the intricacy of the case.

How expensive is mediation?

If you have a low income or get certain benefits, you may be eligible for legal assistance to help pay for mediation. It is means-tested, so you must submit documentation of your present financial situation to demonstrate your eligibility.

If you must pay for mediation, inquire about the mediator’s fees when you initially contact them. You may choose to contact many area mediators to compare fees, as they might vary.

What if mediation fails to produce a resolution?

You may take your disagreement to court if you are unable to reach an agreement with the other party or if mediation fails for any other reason, such as the other party’s refusal to attend or the mediator’s belief that mediation is ineffective. You are responsible for ensuring that the mediator signs and validates your application.

How can I locate a mediator?

The BRAND is a non-profit organisation that maintains a registry of professional family mediators. It does not offer mediation services nor endorse a specific provider. You may search the BRAND Register for a family mediator who practises in your area by either entering your postcode or the mediator’s name.