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How does mediation work?

Initially I will have a phone conversation with each of you to arrange an individual meeting called Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to help you decide whether you wish to take part in mediation. During this meeting you will be given an opportunity to tell me about the current situation and what you would like to achieve from mediation.

I will explain to you how mediation works and answer any questions you may have. We will also discuss with you whether you would feel able to take part in mediation in the presence of your ex-partner. Mediation can only take place if you both feel safe.

If you both decide to engage in mediation each of you will be asked to complete a simple referral form and sign a form entitled Agreement to Mediate. This agreement contains the principles that guide the process of mediation.

If you only want to discuss issues relating to your children, during the first session I will help you to focus on your children's needs and to look at different options. I will also assist you in identifying issues that are relevant to your children on which you may need to agree in a Parenting Plan. Joint decisions may be made at the first session, or it may be necessary to arrange a further session to continue the discussions. Sometimes parents agree on provisional arrangements, which they then try out and review with me at a later date. I can also see your children separately if you would like them to be consulted.

If the mediation involves financial issues you will both be given forms to complete. These will require you to make full disclosure of all your assets, liabilities, income and expenditure. Negotiation about finances cannot take place unless both of you have a clear and full picture of the family's financial situation. This information will have to be supported by relevant documentation. Whether these matters are resolved in mediation, through negotiation between solicitors or by a judge in a court, the requirement for full financial disclosure needs to be met. In this way an informed decision can be made.

At the next session the financial information which you both provided will be collected and shared. Everybody will have an opportunity to ask for clarification on anything that has not been fully understood.

Once the gathering of financial information has taken place the negotiations will start. You will be encouraged to identify the issues for discussion, to set out your general aims for the future and to consider possible options on which you may be able to agree or reach a compromise. The aim of this process is to arrive at fair and workable solutions which meet your individual needs and those of any children.

If you reach a decision on some or all the issues, I will set out your proposals in a document called Memorandum of Understanding. This document is confidential and cannot be disclosed to a judge unless agreed by both of you. It is not a legally binding document. If the mediation involves financial matters I will, in addition, produce a Statement of Financial Information, which sums up the financial information you both provided. The latter is not confidential, i.e. it may be disclosed by either of you in court proceedings.

You will then be advised to show the Statement of Financial Information and the Memorandum of Understanding to your respective solicitors in order to get advice from them on the terms of your proposals. If, after receiving advice, you wish to deal with any points that were not covered in the Memorandum of Understanding, or to renegotiate any of its proposals, you may wish to arrange a further mediation session.

If divorce proceedings have been started, one of your solicitors will draft a Consent Order based on the Memorandum of Understanding, so that the judge in those proceedings can convert your Memorandum into a legally binding order.

If your decisions only concern child issues and you do not wish to obtain a full Memorandum of Understanding I can prepare a Statement of Outcome, a much briefer document, which summarises your joint proposals.


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