Family mediation provides separating and divorcing couples with the opportunity to make their own decisions about the future arrangements for their children, their finances and property and any other areas of dispute, with the reassuring presence of an impartial mediator.
Family mediators are trained to enable you to have these discussions in a calmer, more constructive and respectful way and to focus on the areas that need to be addressed without apportioning blame for the breakdown of the relationship. As the family structure changes, separation can feel frightening and chaotic for everyone. Family mediation allows you to have some control of this process and the chance to discuss the future in a safe, neutral space.
The key to successful family mediation is good communication, something that may well have broken down as your relationship became more strained. As you work through and resolve the issues you have both identified, mediation can help you to re-establish the effective communication you will need as your continue to co-parent your children.
Hazel and Judith use a co-mediation model for most of their clients. As experienced, Family Mediation Council accredited mediators with backgrounds in law, psychotherapy and education, they believe co-mediation is the most effective way of working with clients who choose mediation. Clients benefit from their wide expertise whilst having the reassuring presence of two neutral mediators guiding the process.
If you have decided that your marriage or long-term relationship is ending, one of you contacts either Hazel or Judith to arrange a confidential initial appointment (MIAMS).
The mediator then contacts the other partner to arrange a confidential initial appointment with them.
If both clients wish to proceed, and the mediator feels that mediation is appropriate, the mediator arranges a first joint session with the clients. This joint meeting, and all subsequent joint meetings will be co-mediated by both Hazel and Judith.
After signing the Agreement to Mediate, you will identify the issues you wish to discuss in mediation.
Judith and Hazel will guide you through these discussions, ensuring you are each able to express your opinions and concerns. They will encourage you to address all the matters you have identified and provide legal, financial and parenting information where appropriate.
Judith will explain the importance of your children’s wishes and feelings being heard; if you agree and give your permission, she will write to your children to invite them to a confidential meeting.
Clients will be encouraged to seek legal advice during mediation; documents produced in mediation, including attendance notes from each meeting, may be shown to your solicitor.
Full financial disclosure is made in mediation using Form E and supporting documents, just as in other forms of dispute resolution.
The number of joint sessions you require depends on what you need to discuss, and how much you are able to do outside the mediation meetings. Each case is different and the pace will be right for you. There will be tasks to be done by you both in between mediation sessions.
When all matters have been agreed, Hazel or Judith will draw up a summary of your proposals (Memorandum of Understanding) and an Open Financial Summary of your financial position. These documents should be shown to a solicitor to ensure they clearly reflect the proposals you are making and that all issues have been fully covered.
These documents can then be used to ask a family solicitor to draft a Consent Order which will be made legally binding by the family court.