What is Family Mediation

Family Mediation helps you if you need to sort out disputes or the practical issues of separation such as:

  • Dealing with finances
  • Organising child maintenance payments
  • Child contact arrangements
  • Living arrangements
  • Sorting out shared possessions

Relate has been helping people at all stages of couple and family relationships for more than 75 years.

If you’re separating or divorcing, Family Mediation helps you sort out conflicts and the details of your separation – without involving a long, painful court battle or big legal fees. We offer you and your ex-partner a safe, neutral place where professional mediators can help you work out what happens after you split up.

Relate mediators are here to listen to you and your ex-partner explain your concerns and views to each other and help you reach an agreement around things like arrangements for children, finances, property and other assets. Mediation works by helping people find practical solutions that feel fair. We won’t try and get you back together and we can help even if you’ve been separated for a while.

What are the benefits?

Family Mediation:

  • enables you and your ex-partner to make the decisions. It also reduces the need for expensive court battles where a judge will make the decisions on your behalf;
  • can improve communication between you and your ex-partner, reduce conflict and make things less stressful for everyone involved;
  • maintains important family relationships. It’s easier on children and helps them cope better with their parents’ separation;
  • helps you resolve conflict and reach agreement on all issues surrounding separation, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership;
  • is a cheaper way to help you get on with the rest of your life as quickly as possible;
  • provides you with a calm, neutral place where you can focus on the needs of your children.

What happens next?

If you’ve decided that mediation might be for you, the first thing you need to do is attend a meeting with a mediator to find out more. This is usually called a ‘Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting’ (MIAM) or ‘first meeting’. You can go to this meeting with your ex-partner or separately, if you’d prefer.

It’s best to get in touch with us as soon as you and your ex-partner have decided to split up. The law now says that you must consider whether mediation can help you before you take things to a court, which means you will have had to attend a MIAM unless special circumstances apply, for example if there has been domestic violence or abuse within the relationship.

After your MIAM, a joint decision can be made about whether you want to proceed with further mediation sessions.

What happens during a session?

The length and number of sessions will depend on your situation, but during our time together, we will help you to reach an agreement on key areas of conflict. As soon as an agreement is reached, the mediator will write a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ so that everyone is clear on what decisions have been made.

Agreements made in your sessions can be made legally binding by a court if you and your ex-partner agree. This can be useful for things that might be ongoing, such as child maintenance payments, or if you want something a bit more formal to make sure you both stick to what you’ve agreed.

What if it doesn’t work?

Relate Family Mediation works for most people. Usually at the MIAM we’ll talk to you both about how mediation works and look at other options that could still avoid you having to go to court. However, if after you’ve had mediation, situations change or the arrangements aren’t working anymore, you can always agree to come back to review or change the Memorandum of Understanding.

Mediation is open to anybody affected by family breakdown including divorce, separation and dissolution of civil partnership, regardless of race, sexuality, age, orientation or faith. Mediation is also available to step-parents or other family members, such as grandparents, who may be having difficulties over contact arrangements.

For more information or to make an appointment, please contact us on 020 8940 8578 or use our contact form.