About Family Mediation
What is Mediation?
Family Mediation helps separated or divorcing couples to agree arrangements for their children and/or property and financial matters without going to court. The process offers a safe, confidential environment for you to plan for your future following the end of a relationship.
Mediation is a voluntary process and both of you should be there willingly. The mediator is a neutral party to provide the framework and guidance so that you can explore all the options for the benefit of both parties. What takes place in the meeting is confidential (unless there are issues of child safety), so you are both able to talk freely. All the decisions made in the sessions will be yours. As a result of talking through the issues, ideas and possibilities together, you can reach a mutually agreed decision that is a fair outcome for both parties. The law states that parties must consider whether mediation can help resolve disputes before you can take your case to court.
What is agreed at mediation is not legally binding by default. If you reach decisions in mediation that you later find are not practical, you can change these between yourself or return to mediation to find a new solution. If needed, and you both agree, part or all of the agreement can be made legally binding, but you would be asked to seek separate legal advice on that before the agreement is progressed.
As mediators, we facilitate the process and provide you with a framework which will allows you to explore all the options that work for you and your family. We do not make any decisions; you yourselves work out what proposals you both think you would like to take forward.
The types of issues that can be resolved at mediation are as follows: -
- where will each of you live in the future;
- what will happen to the financial assets such as savings, investments, pensions and liabilities you have;
- what will happen to your personal possessions and the household goods;
- how will you both be able to afford to live now and in the future;
- how much time will the children spend with each of you;
- what will happen at Christmases, holidays or birthdays.
Now may be a good time to speak to your ex-partner about mediation, providing them with the link to this website if they want to find out more about the mediation process and the positives that can result from coming up with your own agreement, rather than one created and imposed from solicitors and the courts.
Mediation is free of charge for those who qualify for Legal Aid. The Legal Agency link at the bottom of the home page, will help you find out if you qualify for free mediation. The mediator will also check this from the documents you take for assessment. If you do qualify for Legal Aid, we can refer you to a local Mediator that provides services for legally aided clients.
To find out more about how Family mediation works, please watch the following video:
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is a less adversarial process that allows family disputes to be resolved more quickly and cheaply for the benefit of the parties and the family.
- provides separating couples with a neutral environment to communicate
- Is a voluntary process that allows you to control the process
- resolves shared problems and does not allocate blame
- helps parties look to the future rather than the past
- is generally a quicker and cheaper process to reach agreement minimising legal costs and avoiding litigation
- helps the parties to focus on the interests and needs of the children and to work together as parents even when you are no longer a couple.
- Is a positive way to reach agreement on the future arrangements for your children and the provision of care for them.
Why choose us?
We will help you to develop solutions together in a personal and cost effective way, avoiding costly legal proceedings. Mediation is a realistic alternative to the significant expense of court action.
We offer mediation on all issues including Property and Finance, Divorce and Separation and all issues relating to children. Our service is personal, empathetic and supportive.
We will meet both parties to discuss their concerns and to help them reach mutual decisions to enable them to move forward in their lives.
If you are seeking a qualified mediator with a family law background to help resolve a family dispute, the please contact Windrush Family Mediation to arrange a confidential discussion about your case.
If you wish to consider mediation or would like to attend a meeting to understand how the process works, please contact us so that we can arrange an initial meeting with you.
Once you have agreed to consider mediation, we will invite you both to each attend an initial session on your own with the mediator. We formally call this the Mediation Assessment Meeting. This can be done either by telephone or a face to face meeting. This meeting lasts up to 45 minutes and allows you and the mediator to talk about the issues you want to resolve, to look at the costs of mediation and discuss the number of sessions it may take and the timescales involved. You will also be able to discuss the issues arising for you as a result of separation or divorce, to learn about family mediation and other available options and to help you make an informed decision as to whether family mediation is for you.
If you both feel comfortable with the initial session, and you and the mediator agree that mediation is suitable, we will then progress to the main joint sessions, with both of you attending the session with the mediator. These sessions last around 90 minutes each, but can be longer by arrangement.
The Mediation Process
If you and your wife or partner both agree to proceed with mediation after the initial meeting, we can arrange a joint mediation session. In the first joint session, we can talk in more detail about the issues you wish to resolve and start the process. You may want to discuss what will happen to the family home and where each of you will live, what will happen about your other capital assets, savings and pensions.
If children are involved, we can talk about schooling, where the children will live, contact arrangements, holidays, birthdays and may other aspects. We can also talk about new relationships, step families, parenting plans and many other things, so that both parties can have their wishes and concerns heard, in order that together, a plan can be created to ensure that both parties needs are addressed and understood.
The goal of mediation is to come to a mutual agreement that addresses both parties’ concerns and deals with all the issues discussed. Once you both agree what proposals you would like to take forward on financial matters, we create two key that formalise the agreements in mediation.
Firstly, there is a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This summarises the outcome of the mediation and the proposals for settlement. It provides a clear summary of the terms of the settlement and you both sign this document. Once you have taken legal advice on what you have agreed, the document can be turned into a legally binding agreement called a Consent Order. The MOU is a legally privileged document, which cannot be produced in court unless both parties agree.
The second document is the Open Financial Statement (OFS) which summarises the financial information that you have disclosed. It is a factual document regarding each party’s financial information (e.g. bank accounts, pension valuations, property values and credit card statements etc.). As this is a factual document, it can be referred to in court or is used to support a Consent Order.
A copy of the MOU and the OFS will be given to both parties and you will be encouraged to take legal advice on what you have both agreed so that it can be formalised by your solicitors. Please note that your proposals will only become binding if you ask your lawyers to create a legally binding agreement; a Consent Order which will need to be approved by the court or if you do not wish to start divorce proceedings yet or if you are unmarried, a Separation Agreement can be prepared to formalise your agreement.
In matters relating to the arrangements for children, a Parenting plan will be prepared with your agreed proposals. Again, you will be advised to seek legal advice on what you have agreed so that it can be formalised by your solicitor.
If at any point a new issue should arise or the situation changes and you are not able to initially agree on an alternative solution, you can return to mediation to work through to create a new agreement that addresses those changes.