01st Dec 2021

Good Divorce Week – Is Family Mediation For Me?

By Elizabeth Fletcher

Good Divorce Week – Is Family Mediation For Me?

As part of Good Divorce Week, we are exploring why Family Mediation might be a process you could consider as part of working out your “good divorce”.  If you have reached the difficult decision that you and your partner want to separate, then the next step is to work out how. FLiP Director and Mediator, Elizabeth Fletcher explains the process below.

Family Mediation is one of the many family law processes that you can access to sort out the arrangements for your children and the separation of your finances.  It is one of the most well-known, and for good reason.  It is a step up from reaching an agreement yourself around the kitchen table but does not involve an adversarial process.  The process is this:

  1. You and your partner choose a Family Mediator who can come from a range of backgrounds both legal and non-legal (such as a therapeutic background). At FLiP, we have a team of mediators from both backgrounds.
  2. You contact that Family Mediator who will then want to have an initial one to one meeting with each of you, often known as a MIAM (Mediation Information Assessment Meeting).
  3. The aim of the MIAM is for you to find out more about Family Mediation and for the Family Mediator to ensure that you and your partner are suited to the process and that there are no issues of concern, such as domestic abuse.
  4. Once that meeting has taken place, and everyone is happy to proceed, the next stage is to attend a joint Family Mediation session which can be in person or online. You can attend the Family Mediation simply with your partner and the mediator. You can also attend with your own solicitor, in which case this is called hybrid mediation.  The sessions do not normally last more than 1.5 hours.
  5. The number of subsequent Family Mediation sessions that take place is up to you and your partner, but there are often no more than 6 sessions in total.

The biggest advantage of Family Mediation is that it gives you and your partner the opportunity to work out a personalised solution for you and your family.  The more formal a process becomes, the more professionals are involved, and the less control you and your partner will have in the outcome.  This is your family, your children, your finances.  Family Mediation provides a supportive environment in which both you and your partner have the opportunity to work out a solution.

Family Mediation is voluntary. Nobody goes to or stays in Family Mediation if they are not willing to do so.  A court process, once begun, can only end with a final outcome achieved either by negotiation or by a judge imposing an outcome.  With Family Mediation, because both parties choose to be there, an outcome is more likely to be found that works for everyone.  We all do better when we do something out of choice, rather than by force.  Anecdotally, as family law professionals we find that mediated agreements, particularly in relation to children, are the most likely to work and to hold together because they have been carefully thought through in a calm environment.  Whereas, court orders, particularly in children matters, and often negotiated at the door of the court, where everyone is feeling under huge pressure, can sometimes set parents up to fail and provide poor arrangements for children that work for no one.

Family Mediators are facilitators.  They are not judges; they do not impose their views, their judgement, their opinions.  They aim to help you find the best arrangement for you and your family. They will give information, whether that is legal information, research about what works for children, therapeutic support. They will not tell you what you must do. Again, we tend to do the best we can, when we are supported in making decisions, but make those decisions ourselves. This is what Family Mediation helps us to do.

Family Mediation is a confidential process.  It is confidential to the outside world, but it is also confidential in relation to any existing or subsequent court proceedings.  This means that parties feel free to explore options in Family Mediation that they might be afraid to put forward in legal proceedings.  This brings a freedom to the discussions held in Family Mediation and allows for considerations which cannot be considered in court.

In a “good divorce”, spouses, partners and parents will feel like they have worked together to achieve a good outcome for themselves and their children. Family Mediation is a process that can really help you to achieve some or part of that.  You retain control of the decisions and the outcome and in doing so, you can create something personal that works for all the different dynamics and idiosyncrasies of your family.  If you achieve that, you could well have achieved a good divorce.

If you would like to know more about family mediation and how it can help you to find a resolution to your family issues, please contact Wendy Hoare, our family mediation coordinator or contact us at E: hello@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000.

For more information on mediation, visit our mediation page below which explains how mediation works and what types of disputes it can be used to resolve.