Family mediation is where an independent, professionally trained mediator helps you and your former partner to work out an agreement about issues such as:
- Arrangements for your children
- Child maintenance payments
- Finances (for example, what to do with your house, savings, pension, debts)
It can also be used to help with the other issues which are causing you difficulties, such as how your children keep in touch with their grandparents or in-laws.
Mediation can also be helpful when arrangements you’ve made before need to change, particularly as your children grow up. If you go to Court to sort out your issues, invariably the Court will have made a Child Arrangements Order; which both parties must adhere to, and once ordered there is generally no flexibility – save of course for the obvious common sense issues that will pop up which will mean a slight variance to the Order, i.e. if your child is unwell.
Otherwise, Court Orders are designed to bring about certainty into uncertain situations. And both parents need to stick to it, even if one or both of you feel unhappy about them.
However, mediation, on the other hand, can help you stay in control. No-one will make you do anything against your wishes. The mediator will help you find a solution which works for you both and explain how you can make an agreement legally binding.
Today, a Court will expect you to have considered mediation before you apply to them to hear your case. They can refuse to hear your case until you have done this.
In order to apply for a Child Arrangements Order (CAO), you must first attempt mediation – specifically, you both must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
You can find your local family mediator using the search form on the Family Mediation Council Website – make sure you tick the box that says ‘qualified to sign court forms’: https://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator/