FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the purpose of mediation?
Mediation is offered as a voluntary way of discussing and resolving the issues that divide couples who have separated prior to divorce in an attempt to bring about a resolution that is acceptable to both parties. It must be stressed that it is NOT a process that is in place to attempt to keep couples together. Mediation allows the parties involved to reach their own solution regarding issues such as those concerning their children, property, debts or even their pets.

What is the purpose of going through mediation when I could merely consult my solicitor?
If you intend to go to court it is always advisable to work with your solicitor, however the mediation process was introduced as an informal, less costly way for separating and divorcing couples to reach an acceptable agreement without the need to go to court. Thus, mediation is often a less stressful option that does not have the formal atmosphere of the court that many couples find intimidating. Mediation is also usually less time consuming and can often be concluded within a day. It is also more effective than going to court because it allows couples to reach their own agreement without the need of a judgement. However, your solicitor can be present to help you and provide legal advice if required.

Is mediation compulsory?
Although going through the mediation process is not a requirement, since April 2011 the Ministry of Justice has ruled it must be considered by all parties contemplating separation or divorce before proceeding to court. All parties now must attend at least one Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before legal proceedings can be commenced. If no agreement to mediate can be established, the parties must obtain a form FM1 from the mediator who conducted the MIAM that has to be signed to confirm that mediation is not a feasible option in their case.

How long does the MIAM meeting take?
The initial mediation meeting is very short and should take no longer than 20-30 minutes and once mediation has been agreed, the process can be completed within a day but obviously this depends on the complexities of the dispute.

Will the other party be expected to be at the MIAM meeting?
No – generally the meeting is between you and a member of our mediation team unless you and your partner wish to participate in the meeting jointly.

What is the MIAM meeting for?
The meeting is to assess your individual needs and to determine whether there is an opportunity for your circumstances to be resolved successfully through mediation.

By attending the MIAM meeting, does this automatically mean I must attend mediation?
No. Mediation is an entirely voluntary process and nobody can force you to participate. If you decide that mediation will not resolve your concerns then you can tell the mediator this as the initial meeting and the mediation process will go no further.

Does this mean I need to have my solicitor present during mediation?
No. This is entirely your choice and the majority of couples find they are quite comfortable going through the mediation process without any legal representation. However, we suggest that you discuss mediation with your solicitor before agreeing to the process. Both parties also need to agree to mediation for the process to continue.

If I agree to mediation, who will be the mediator?
All our mediators are qualified as professional mediators and are required to abide by a Code of Practice. Many of our mediators also have a professional training and are either currently practicing lawyers or have been in the past. Some have additionally qualified in a related profession and have worked for example as court welfare officers. Every mediator has been professionally trained to be sympathetic but they cannot take sides and they are not allowed to give legal advice. They must also conduct the mediation process in a completely impartial, unbiased and confidential way.

Does my partner have to attend the mediation?
Yes – the mediation cannot proceed without the agreement of both parties and both have to attend. If either of you, at any time during the mediation process, feel reaching a mutually acceptable resolution is unlikely, either party – or the mediator – can terminate the process.

How long does mediation take?
Most clients are seen approximately two weeks after being referred by a solicitor or having contacted us themselves. At the initial meeting it will be determined whether there is a reasonable opportunity for your case to be resolved. If, it appears there is no chance of reaching an agreement at mediation the file will be returned to your solicitor (if applicable).
If your partner is willing to mediate, an appointment will be made for their initial meeting as soon as possible – again, in about two weeks.
After both initial meetings have been completed, future mediation will be arranged at a convenient date, time and place to suit both parties. The number of mediations and the length of time each meeting takes will be dependent on the complexities of your case but many can reach a resolution in less than a day.

If agreement is reached is this legally binding?
No – but your mediator is obliged to prepare a summary of any resolution that has been reached for you and your partner’s respective solicitors. This can, if appropriate, be incorporated into a court order or other legal binding agreement.

I have had to move away from the area because of the hassle I was getting from my ex. Do I have to travel back to take part in mediation?
No, we can arrange mediation sessions through a video or Skype conference link, saving your travel costs and also time.

I don’t mind having mediation with my ex-partner, but I don’t want to be in the same room as him, do I have to do that?
There is no requirement for you to be in the same room together, especially as we can use a conferencing facility where you can have mediation sessions through a video link. The courts can also decide that you do not have to have joint mediation.

For various reasons, I don’t want to ask work for time off to go to mediation. Is there any way of avoiding it?
We do not want to give you any more stress in this difficult situation, and are flexible when it comes to booking appointments. We can arrange them during the evening or at weekends.

I could find it difficult to get to your office, do you have home visits?
In special circumstances, we can organise mediation sessions at your home or a convenient place for you.
Want to find out more call us today on 03300 101 367 – Evening & Weekend appointments available