Mediators help couples who are going through a break-up to reach agreement on key issues such as finances and child contact. Mediation allows you and your ex to discuss your differences in a constructive and supportive environment. In general, using mediators to negotiate a fair arrangement with your ex is quicker, less expensive and less stressful than taking your disputes through a contested court battle.
How does mediation work?
A trained mediator will meet with you both for a series of sessions in which you will
be helped to:
• Identify all the matters you wish to consider
• Collect the necessary information
• Talk about the choices open to you
• Negotiate with each other to reach decisions that are acceptable to you both
• Discuss how you can consult your children appropriately about arrangements
What does the mediator do?
The mediator’s job is to act as an impartial third party and manage the process, helping you to exchange information, ideas and feelings constructively and ensuring that you make informed decisions. The mediator has no power to impose a settlement – responsibility for all decisions remains with yourselves since you know better than anyone else what is right for your family. The mediator will not advise you about the best option either for your children or your financial affairs, nor can the mediator protect your individual interest.
Four key principles of the mediation process
• It is voluntary
• The mediator is impartial
• It is confidential
• It is flexible
Will we have anything in writing?
At the end of mediation, you will usually have achieved a written summary of the proposals you have reached. This is not a legally binding document and you will need legal advice about it especially if you have reached agreement on financial and property issues.
How much will it cost?
Each Service has its own scale of charges. A mediator will also be able to advise you if you are eligible for publicly funded mediation, which is free.
Is mediation suitable for everybody?
Sometimes mediation is not the best way for you to resolve your problems. You will have a chance to discuss this in more detail at your first individual meeting with the mediator.
Is mediation confidential?
Firstly, mediation is confidential and courts are also likely to regard the discussions as privileged.
Confidentiality – The Service will not voluntarily disclose to outsiders any information obtained in the course of your discussions without first obtaining your permission (unless it appears there is a risk of significant harm to adult or child).
Privilege – What you say during mediation cannot be used later in court as evidence. But facts disclosed during mediation are regarded as open information and although strictly confidential may be used subsequently in court.
Will the mediator talk to the children?
In mediation you are regarded as the experts on your children and will have valuable knowledge and information about their needs, wishes and views. However, there may be times when you both would like the mediator to consult directly with the children about your plans. In those circumstances’ children would be asked for their specific comments and views on your joint proposals, without having to take sides in any difference of opinion between their parents.
Such a meeting needs careful planning and is confidential in so far as the mediator and children agree what the mediator will say to the parents after the meeting.
What are the benefits of mediation?
Research conducted by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation with Newcastle University identified that three years later couples felt that mediation had helped them to:
- End the marital relationship amicably
- Reduce conflict
- Maintain good relationships with their ex-spouses
- Carry less bitterness and resentment into their post-divorce lives.
- Be more content with existing childcare arrangements and less likely to have disagreements about child contact.
- Be able to reach agreement that had survived the test of time.
- Be glad they had used mediation.