Mediators do not give legal advice and do not represent individuals. They are there to help both of you work out a plan for the future as a couple and/or as parents who will be leading separate lives.
Do you still need a Solicitor?
When proposals are finalised by the couple, a summary is drawn up by the mediator(s) which each of the couple can then take to their own solicitor with whom it can be discussed and, if desired, made into a legally binding agreement. We encourage each client to seek advice from their own solicitor (free to those in receipt of legal aid for mediation) at any stage of the process should they wish to do so.
Mediation is a confidential way for couples to arrive together at fair, long lasting arrangements, thus reducing the pain and trauma associated with separation or divorce.
Mediators provide expert information but do not take sides or advise you; their role is to offer the opportunity to develop communication and reduce bitterness in order to make positive plans for the future.
One of the aims of Mediation is to produce joint proposals, without the need for costly court proceedings, and we encourage clients to seek advice from their own solicitor at any stage of the process should they wish to do so.
Any of the problems which arise when couples part can be discussed during mediation sessions.
What Problems Can Be Dealt With Through Mediation?
These may include:
Divorce/Separation Agreement issues
Arrangements for children, such as contact between parent and child and where children may live
Communication between parents
Arrangements for the division of property and money
Financial support for the family
Grandparents not being able to see grandchildren
Mediation is a way of resolving those difficult issues without the expensive cost of court proceedings and reducing the length of time dealing with these issues.
Recent figures show the average cost of court proceedings is in the region of £5k - £15k per person. The average cost of private mediation are around £500.
If you qualify for Legal Aid for mediation it is FREE
All our mediators have varying backgrounds and include experienced family lawyers as well as professionals skilled in family-centred work. The wide range of mediator skills available allows our mediator skills to be tailored to client needs.
Who Are The DFSL Mediators?
Our Mediators are:
Specially trained unbiased professionals
Selected and trained to recognised National and European standards and directly accountable to a national body; FMA or Resolution and FMC.
How does Mediation work?
The mediator's role is to assist couples to discuss their problems together in an open and co-operative atmosphere, that allows balanced and productive discussion to take place.
The mediators establish ground rules so that each person can express their point of view. Each mediation session may last up to one and a half hours. Three or four sessions may be needed depending on the complexity of the issues involved in your situation, and the time needed to make important decisions.
Mediation is not for everyone, nor is it a 'soft option'. To enable you to find out more about the mediation process, it is usual to have an 'assessment' meeting with a mediator prior to mediation, either together as a couple or separately, as you choose.
Will Mediation help you?
The purpose of an assessment meeting is to provide you with further information, gather details about your circumstances and assess with you whether mediation would be helpful in your case. Solicitors are able to provide us with basic information about your situation in advance of such meetings by completing our referral form, with your assistance.
What is an Assessment Meeting?
This is a free 30-minute meeting between you and a Mediator to find out more about how Mediation might help you find solutions to your own particular family legal problems.
The Government wish to encourage families who turn to the law for help to first find out whether Mediation is suitable, and this will be your opportunity to be informed about how Mediation works, and to ask any questions of the Mediator which may be of concern to you.
The Mediator will explain what happens in a Mediation session and will answer any questions you may have. It is the Mediator's duty to form a view whether Mediation is suitable for your circumstances and will be of positive help to you, and it will also be for you to decide whether you wish to proceed with Mediation.
What happens at the Meeting?
The Mediator will complete a brief financial form with you to find out whether you are entitled to free Mediation Legal Aid to cover future Mediation sessions, which would also qualify you to obtain free "Help with Mediation" from your solicitor, if the Mediation proceeds. To enable the Mediator to complete the form we ask you to bring proof of your income in the form of recent wage slips, and any State benefit / Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit documents. If you do not qualify for Mediation Legal Aid, the Mediator will explain how much a 1½-hour Mediation session will cost.
The Mediation process itself will expect that you and your former partner meet together with a mediator.
Do I come on my own or with my former partner?
The Assessment Meeting will be for you to attend on your own. This offers you the opportunity to discuss with the mediator your own views about taking part in Mediation with your former partner.
There will be no pressure on you to choose Mediation if you decide that it is not suitable for you. At the end of the Assessment Meeting, if you and / or the Mediator decide that Mediation would not be helpful at the present time, then you would need to seek advice from a solicitor or issue an application at court.
What happens if I decide that I do not want to have Mediation?
What happens if one of us wants to have Mediation but the other does not? Mediation can only work if both people involved are committed to resolve their differences in this way. In the circumstances that one person is unwilling to proceed with Mediation, we will respect that choice but always keep the door open to the possibility of Mediation taking place at a later date, if you both subsequently come to the mutual view that you would like to try the Mediation option.