Sorting out separation arrangements for children, home and finance
HOW MEDIATION WORKS
MIAM: MEDIATION INFORMATION AND ASSESSMENT MEETING
This initial, individual meeting is your chance to talk about your situation and what is important to you. Your mediator explains the key principles of mediation and how it works, and checks that mediation would be safe and appropriate. By the end of this meeting you’ll be in a position to decide whether to go ahead with mediation.
FINANCE AND PROPERTY MEDIATION
Take considered decisions about your future. Firstly, financial disclosure ensures you have a full understanding of your financial position and your ex-partner's. Your mediator helps you to research information and weigh up options. You can take legal and other specialist advice during the process. When you are ready to take decisions, these are recorded in a Memorandum of Understanding.
MEDIATION ABOUT CHILDREN
Parental separation doesn't mean disaster for children. Children can still flourish, providing they are supported and not drawn into conflict. Yet conversations about children can sometimes be hijacked by emotions and other issues. Mediation keeps your children's needs central to the discussion so that you can continue being the parent you want to be.
CHILD INCLUSIVE MEDIATION
If you have children, they're almost certainly at the heart of your decisions. Yet some children feel that their voices aren't heard during their parents' separation. Mediators with specialist training can give your child the opportunity to express themselves during mediation. They know that their views will be listened to and respected, though you retain responsibility for making the decisions.
THE MEDIATION PROCESS
The first step to learning more about mediation is to attend an initial information meeting (a MIAM).
Your mediator will also make contact with the person you would like to mediate with (usually your ex-partner) to invite them to a MIAM of their own.
If they decline that offer, or it becomes clear at the MIAM that mediation isn’t suitable, mediation can’t proceed. If needed, your mediator can sign a form for a court to say that you have done all that is required.
Assuming you both want to mediate, and mediation is suitable, your next (and any subsequent) meeting would be a joint meeting. You should expect 2 – 3 meetings for mediation about Children and 3 – 5 meetings for Financial or All Issues Mediation.
Before reaching final decisions, you have time to take legal advice, which is particularly important in cases involving Finance and Property.
At the end of your mediation process, your mediator writes up a summary of your decisions. This is not legally binding (but can become so if you apply to court for a consent order).
WHAT IS A MIAM?
A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting is your opportunity to find out about mediation, to say what's important to you and to check that mediation is appropriate in your situation. (You are required to attend a MIAM before making a court application.)
WHAT IS A FORM A / C100?
These forms are used to make an application to court, for a financial remedy (Form A) or children arrangements (C100). Unless you qualify for a specific exemption, a mediator must sign the relevant page of these forms before you can submit your application to court.
IS MEDIATION COMPULSORY?
If you want to make an application to court a MIAM is compulsory, unless you qualify for a specific exemption. You don't have to attend your MIAM with the other person. Mediation itself is not compulsory. It only goes ahead if both people are willing.
IS MEDIATION ALWAYS APPROPRIATE?
In some situations, mediation is not suitable. If there has been domestic abuse, your mediator would talk through the safeguards available when you attend your individual MIAM. Mediation would only go ahead if you and your mediator are satisfied that mediation would be safe and balanced.
WHAT STOPS MY EX DOMINATING?
Your mediator ensures that each person is able to speak and be heard, and maintains a balance in the discussion. The session is structured to focus on the points that you agree should be covered.
WHAT IF THE OTHER PERSON WON'T MEDIATE?
It does take two people for mediation to happen. If the other person refuses, or cannot attend, then your mediator can talk through other options with you. If you decide to make an application to court, the mediator will sign the relevant form to confirm that you have attempted to start the process.
DO I NEED A SOLICITOR?
You will have the opportunity to take legal, financial and other specialist advice during the mediation process. Your mediator will recommend that you do this at certain points, particularly if you are making decisions about property and finance. Mediators don't give legal advice.
ARE MEDIATED AGREEMENTS LEGALLY BINDING?
No, but they are more likely to be sustainable if you have both participated in the decision-making process. If a court order is important to you, it is possible to apply for a consent order based on your decisions in mediation. This puts you in the same position as any other court order (though may well be achieved faster).