Frequently asked questions

What are the benefits of family mediation?

• gives you more say about what happens. In court a judge will make the decisions. With mediation you and the other party make the decisions.

• is less stressful, with less conflict between you and your partner. If you have children it is less upsetting for them. It can help find ways for everyone involved to get on better in the future.

• improves communication and helps you sort out your future.

• agreements can be reviewed and changed if you both agree – e.g. if your situation changes, and as your children get older and have different needs.

• is easier on your children when parents co-operate and helps them continue important family relationships.

• is quicker, cheaper and provides a better way to sort out disagreements than long drawn-out court battles – helping you to get on with the rest of your life as quickly as possible.

Is family mediation right for everyone? Family mediation works for most people. At the MIAM the mediator will talk to you about whether mediation will work for you both and tell you about other options that could still avoid you having to go to court, for example collaborative law or solicitor negotiation.

What if I want to go to court? The law says that you must consider whether mediation can help you before you can take a case to court. A judge can halt your case until this has happened. You will need to show the court that a) you have been to a MIAM to find out about mediation or b) you don’t need to do this because of special circumstances which are listed in section 11 of form C100 Special circumstances include cases involving domestic violence or child abuse, which may not be right for mediation – the mediator can advise you on this at the MIAM or first meeting. Alternatively, if you have evidence of domestic violence or child abuse you may not need to go to a MIAM and may be able to get Legal Aid to pay for a solicitor to help you bring your case to court.

When should I go to a MIAM? It’s best to contact a mediator as soon as you and your ex-partner have decided to split up and need help sorting out arrangements – the sooner the better before the issues become big problems. You don’t need to see a solicitor first but if you do they should tell you about mediation. Even if you’ve been separated for a while or if your case has already gone to court, mediation can help to resolve any dispute you may still have. The law says that you must consider whether mediation can help you before you can take a case to court. This means you need to go to a MIAM unless special circumstances apply, like if your situation involves domestic violence or abuse.

What if things don’t go as planned afterwards? If the situation changes and the arrangements aren’t working, you can go back to the mediator. If needed, you can agree to change the Memorandum of Understanding.