How does Family Mediation work?

_MG_5336The fundamental principles of all mediation are;

• It is a voluntary process.
Both participants are free to end the process at any time. The mediator will also end the process if it is not getting anywhere.

• The Mediator is neutral
It is the role of the mediator to help both of the participants equally. The Mediator helps the participants to find their own solution together.

• The mediator does not give legal advice
The mediator can share helpful information in a neural way. The participants will have their own Solicitors who will be able to advise them, Sometimes the mediator will identify a legal issue about which advise is needed and will prepare questions for each to ask their Solicitor, This can help move the mediation forward and make the legal advice more relevant avoid unnecessary costs.

•  It is a confidential process.
The substance of the negotiations remains confidential. This is to allow the participants to freely consider a range of options together until they find an option which is acceptable to both. Both sign a contract called the “Agreement to Mediate” to make this confidentiality legally binding.

Whilst the confidentiality surrounding the substance of the negotiations is legally binding; information provided by the participants, such as details of their financial arrangements is not covered by this confidentiality. This means if the mediation fails the information is able to be recycled in a Court process, which will save the couple money. In Family Law cases the couple have a responsibility to provide full and frank financial disclosure.

The Mediator is under an obligation to breach confidentiality is a serious safety issue arises, particularly to a child, or if the mediator becomes suspicious of money laundering etc.

We mediate in accordance with the Code of Practice of the Law Society, Resolution and FMA, all of whom are members of the Family Mediation Council.

In the normal model of family mediation, there will be series of meetings between the couple. These are usually around 1.5  hours long. There are usually 3-4 sessions.

The mediator will help the couple to decide their agenda and to decide in what order to discuss the different issue.

When children’s views are sought there is a separate agreement to mediate. Meetings by the mediator with children take place between the adults meetings. We have a separate page explaining what happens.

At the end of the process, the mediator prepares a final summary of proposals called the Memorandum of Understanding.

The mediation model is adaptable. Sometimes we might have a longer meeting or meetings in the morning and afternoon. At other times the couple might be in different rooms, so that they do not meet and the mediator shuttles between them.

The Hybrid Model of Mediation/Solicitor inclusive Mediation. 

We also offer what is called the “hybrid” model of mediation. This uses the civil mediation model for families and is particularly well suited when there are complex financial issues. We also call this “Solicitor-inclusive mediation”.

With this model the mediator does keep separate confidences and only discloses to each side what the other authorises. The couple generally attend with Solicitors. Sometimes they also bring other family members or supporters, and accountants. Basically each brings the team required to enable them to achieve resolution.

Each side has their own room and the mediator has a third neutral room. A day is allocated.

The mediator will have spoken with the Solicitors and met with the parties before the day to ensure everyone is ready and in the right frame of mind and that all relevant/necessary information is available.

On the day of the mediation the mediator holds joint and separate meetings with both sides. The advantage of this model is that the mediator gets to understand the true positions of each side and what each really want/need/can offer to achieve resolution. At the end of the mediation the Solicitors draft the final agreement.

This model is the quickest of all the processes. The normal family mediation model is usually best suited when there are issues to be sorted out about children.

We have a separate page comparing the costs of the different processes.

The important thing is to talk, so we can assist you to choose the process which will work best for your family.