LONDON OFFICE
Coram Chambers, 9-11 Fulwood Place,
London, WC1V 6HG

Phone: 020 7092 3700
Fax: 020 7092 3777

COLCHESTER OFFICE
St Martin’s House, 63 West Stockwell St,
Colchester, CO1 1HE

Phone: 01206 217133
Fax: 01206 548704

Email: mediation@gleamed.co.uk

Family Mediation
We have considerable experience in mediating Family disputes to achieve an outcome that all parties can live with.

Introduction

We understand that, when a relationship breaks down there is so much to talk about with your ex-partner. Important decisions need to be made about children and the finances, as well as any formal steps that need to be taken, such as whether or not to issue divorce proceedings. This is at a time when talking to your ex-partner can be the hardest thing to do.

Family mediation is a negotiation facilitated by a neutral person to reach an agreement on the arrangements to be put in place at the end of a family relationship.Mediation can help you, your (ex) partner and other members of the family to make decisions about the future on a wide range of issues - such as how the children of the family would be cared for after divorce or separation, how the contact between children and the non-resident parent should be maintained, how other members of the family, such as grandparents, maintain or initiate contact with the children, how to divide the family assets and to reach financial settlement, etc. Mediation can also help empower separating couples as they make the decisions for themselves, based on what is best for their family and circumstances. The Mediator will guide the couple to focus on the issues and, if children are involved, what is in their best interests. If appropriate, children may be invited to participate in the process. Nowadays family units differ greatly from one to another, and family mediation can be used flexibly by anyone in a variety of circumstances when family issues need to be resolved.

It is however important to remember that mediation is a voluntary process; therefore it is only possible if both parties are willing to try mediation. If you would like to try mediation whilst you are not sure whether or not your (ex) partner / members of the family is/are willing, then, the best way may be to suggest it to that person that he/she would look at our website and contact us to find out more about mediation whilst weighing up how other options would fare with respect to costs, time, stress, effort and any likely outcome he/she may achieve. If there is an agreement between the parties to try mediation, either party can contact us to start the arrangements for mediation.

In certain circumstances, mediation may not be suitable, for example, where there is a risk of harm, domestic violence, abuse or harassment, etc., but usually it is a prerequisite requirement to have mediation before bringing the matter to the court. The court will not accept an application for your matter to be heard by a judge if mediation has not been tried beforehand except for special circumstances. Please contact us to find out more if you are not sure whether or not exemption may apply to your matter. If your matter is already before the judge but you feel mediation might help, you can contact us at any stage of the court proceedings.

Why Mediation?

Family mediation is essentially a negotiation process between parties, with a helping hand of a neutral facilitator, to try to reach an agreement on family issues to realise the best possible outcome for all concerned. It has been found to be effective because:

  1. It lets the individuals concerned to focus on the actual issues, not to be distracted or overwhelmed by the often complicated and lengthy legal procedures. If matters are brought to the court, it is the judges that have the ultimate authority to decide on your matters. You might feel that you are not effectively participating in the process, not in charge of how your matters are being decided or simply finding it difficult to understand the whole picture due to the unfamiliar experience of negotiating formal legal process and also because of the extensive involvement of various professionals. In mediation, parties to mediation are always in charge of how far they would like to go as they see the merit of reaching an agreement to which they are prepared to adhere.
  2. Going to the court can be very expensive. As the cost of mediation is shared and most couples need between three and six sessions, it is usually a far more cost-effective way of resolving your matter. Also, by holding mediation first, you can reduce the time and costs of the court proceedings even if your effort to sort things out through mediation does not lead to a successful agreement on all issues. As any outstanding issues have been already aired, identified and narrowed down, the court proceedings can be managed efficiently and cost effectively.
  3. As family mediation focuses on the process for the parties to reach an agreement voluntarily, it is conducted in a non-hostile atmosphere and it encourages parties’ cooperation in order to maximise the benefit of all concerned. This is the ideal way to resolve family issues especially concerning children as they would need their parents to cooperate and focus on their best interest.
  4. Parties are, at the same time, given the opportunity to express their wishes regarding ideal outcomes they would like to achieve for themselves as well as their fears and concerns but, crucially, in a controlled environment so as not to jeopardise the chance of successful negotiation. This is because the mediator is the person to whom parties are to express and raise these issues and also because the mediator, having been equipped with information given by the parties, would take a role of a skilled and tactful “go-between” who would act equally for both parties without undermining either party’s position or interest. If you have experienced difficulty in directly talking to each other trying to achieve a desired outcome, you would see the merit of having a skilful facilitator who can help you to stay on course of negotiation whilst taking the heat off any emotional charged argument.
  5. Mediator can take in all issues from all parties concerned then suggest possible solutions based on the wishes, ideas, fears and concerns expressed by the parties so that the suggested solutions can be acceptable to all parties. The mediator however makes suggestions only to assist the parties to contemplate possible options and to break-through any stumbling block. The mediator will not seek to impose any solution or to force parties to reach an agreement. The Mediator cannot provide legal advice, but, as our family mediators are both solicitors specialised in family law, they can make sure that any agreement reached is legally sound and can be approved by the Court.

Family Mediators

Lauren Sadler – Solicitor Family Mediator »
Catherine Ashton – Solicitor Family Mediator »

The Process

The procedure to initiate Mediation

Referral

Usually, either one of you will contact us, or you may be referred to us by your solicitor. If you have approached us directly, we will send you a referral form to complete and return to us, or you can fill in the online referral form. The form is straight forward and gives us brief information about your circumstances and any issues which need to be resolved. When we have received the form from you, we will contact your ex-partner and ask them whether, or not, they agree to mediation.

Assessment Meeting

If your ex-partner agrees to mediation we will arrange for you to attend, separately, an assessment meeting. This usually lasts about thirty minutes. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure that mediation is suitable in your particular case. We will use the meeting to explain the mediation process and answer any questions you may have. The Mediator will also use the meeting to assess whether, or not, you are eligible for Legal Aid. If you are eligible, this assessment meeting and subsequent mediation sessions are provided free of charge to you. If you are not, we will explain what our charges will be. As, at this stage, mediation will not have started, we will not charge you for this assessment meeting.(or should the fees apply – see the fees webpage £90/£100 for MIAM). We will ask parties to pay any charges at the end of the assessment meeting and at the beginning of each mediation session. You will be informed in advance exactly how much you are expected to pay for our service. Please be advised that we expect you have the provision for payment for the charge in place when coming to the assessment meeting because the outcome of assessment on your eligibility for legal aid is yet to be determined.

What You Need To Bring With You

So that we can assess you for Legal Aid, please bring with you to the assessment meeting:–

If you wish, you can come to the assessment meeting together; otherwise we will see you separately on this occasion. If we have any concern about the suitability of mediation because, for example, there are issues of domestic abuse, we will ask to see you separately to ensure that the process is appropriate in your case.

Before Mediation

If you both are willing to try mediation and it is suitable for your case, then the first session will be arranged. The Mediator will set a date with you, which is convenient for you both. Each case is different and some issues are resolved quickly and others can take more time. On average, between three and six sessions are usually required. Each session lasts ninety minutes.

The mediator will need to be provided with paperwork that are relevant to the issues to be resolved through mediation. After the assessment meeting, the mediator will identify the documents required for the purpose of mediation and will ask you and your (ex) partner to send them to the mediator a week or so before the mediation session. If the issues to be resolved are about finance, the mediator will use the first mediation session to obtain more information by asking you both to fill in forms to return together with supporting financial documents such as bank statements and a mortgage agreement.

The mediator may decide to telephone the individuals concerned and/or their solicitors before the mediation. In particular, the mediator needs assurance that those attending do have the authority to agree to any future arrangements being proposed at the mediation.

Mediation Session(s)

Mediation has the best chance of success if participating parties are willing to resolve issues for the benefit of all concerned, especially of children if there are any. The Mediator is there to guide you both impartially and to help you resolve issues between you. The Mediator is impartial and, therefore, cannot give you specific legal advice.

If financial issues need to be resolved, the first session is usually used to identify the issues and plan a way forward. A financial statement will be given to each of you to complete and return, along with documents supporting the information given on the form, for example bank statements, wage slips etc. This form, and the accompanying documents, will be used during the next session. We understand that form filling is not most people’s favourite task, but it does need to be done so that you can establish what your financial position is and plan for the future. It is impossible to have a constructive discussion about finances unless you both have been open and honest about your financial situation.

Mediation is confidential, and the Mediator cannot discuss your case with anyone else outside mediation without your permission. However, if a child or adult appears to be at risk of harm, or if issues under the Proceeds of Crime Act are raised, then the Mediator is obliged to make a referral to the appropriate agency. It is also important that you understand you must not tell the Mediator anything during mediation that you would not want the other person to know as this would mean that mediation cannot continue as the Mediator will no longer be impartial.

You may already have a solicitor who is dealing with your case. Most people benefit from consulting a solicitor who can give you specific legal advice about your case. If you wish to telephone your solicitor during the mediation session, you are free to do so. If you do not have a solicitor yourself and if, at any stage of the mediation process, you feel you would like to have one, you could raise this issue with the mediator so that the session could be suspended to allow you to make an arrangement to seek legal advice on your case.

Please click here for more detailed information regarding what happens during a family mediation session.

After Mediation

Your Mediator will put together a document, setting out the proposals you have reached. This document will also explain the background of your case and briefly the reasoning of why you want to resolve the issues in the way that you do. You can then take it to a solicitor, who can advise you and make it legally binding.

If you do not reach agreement at mediation, then you cannot refer to the discussions that took place during the process in Court proceedings. The exception to this is the financial information you may have provided as this information can be referred to.

Mediation (Session)

Preparing for the mediation

Mediation is above all a negotiation. In any negotiation you want to persuade the other side that you have a strong case and that they should therefore settle with you on terms favourable to you. You should therefore prepare for a negotiation and be prepared to produce whatever is necessary to persuade the other side of your point of view, including perhaps a calculation of costs, with supporting documents.

If you feel your case is strong but you cannot persuade the other side of it, then you may not be able to settle or you may have to settle on terms less favourable than you would like.

The procedure at the mediation

Those attending should aim to arrive fifteen minutes or so before the mediation. The mediator will greet them separately and arranges for them to sign the Agreement to Mediate if they have not already done so.

At the start of the mediation, the mediator will set out the ground rules, which are:

  1. The mediator is completely neutral.
  2. The mediator will not impose a solution - it is for the parties to reach agreement if they wish. Nor will the mediator give any evaluation or judgement.
  3. Attendance at the mediation is voluntary – parties are free to leave.
  4. The mediation is without prejudice to any court proceedings.
  5. The process is confidential, so that neither party may repeat outside the mediation anything of a confidential nature said in the mediation.

There are no hard and fast rules about how mediation is conducted, but the mediator may well invite each side to briefly set out their position, without being interrupted, as a start point. The mediator will continue the joint session whilst it seems productive but may also separate the parties for reflection and one-to-one discussion. The mediator aims to establish a good relationship with each side by listening to what they say and seeking to understand the dispute from their point of view. The mediator will then continue to facilitate the negotiation by shuttling between separated individuals or by bringing both sides together again, as appropriate.

Agreement reached in the mediation will be recorded by the mediator in a Financial Statement and Memorandum of Understanding. When agreement is complete or has gone as far as it can in mediation, both sides must take independent legal advice on the documents provided by the mediator before they can become a formal agreement.

Mediation is seldom easy – it can be challenging and uncomfortable. It is also common for parties to feel part way through the mediation that they are wasting their time, that the other side is not prepared to give anything at all and that they might as well leave. If so, you can expect the mediator to encourage you to persevere with the process as this situation is not unusual and it is usually possible to work through the obstacles with the mediator’s assistance to arrive at an agreement.

If agreement has not been reached by the end of a mediation session, it should be apparent what further work and exchange of information is needed if agreement is to be reached next time. The mediator will take account of the time needed to complete such work when suggesting a date and time for the next session, but please let the mediator know if you feel a longer time between the sessions may be needed.

Fees

Costs

We always provide a full quotation so that you know exactly what the costs will be before you enter the mediation process. We will discuss our charges with you at our initial assessment meeting. The charges are dependent upon the types of issues concerned and the complexity of the matter, and are calculated on the hourly rate. Please see the table below to find out the charges for our services.

Each mediation session will last one hour and thirty minutes and, in addition to this, there will be a preparation time for the Mediator of thirty minutes. You will, therefore, be charged for two hours for each mediation session, which either one of you can pay or you can share between you.

If either one of you are eligible for Legal Aid then the Legal Services Commission will pay our fees according to their fee structure in relation to the eligible person. Therefore, it is possible that one of you pays privately and the Legal Services Commission pays the other person’s fees.

There is no charge for accommodation if the mediation takes place at one of our venues in London and Colchester. If accommodation is needed elsewhere for the mediation, we can arrange it and the charge will be shown separately in the estimate, together with any other expenses, such as the mediator's travel and subsistence. If the parties would like to arrange accommodation themselves, then the mediator will go to their agreed location.

Fee structure

Indicative costs for family Mediation are shown below and those that apply in your case will be agreed with you as part of our free advice, before you incur any obligation to pay anything.

Activity Matters to be settled Cost (£) +VAT
  Parenting and
child contact arrangements
Property matters Finances Deceased’s estate Special circumstances (abduction, cross-border mediation, etc.) Divorce  
Mediation ­Information and Assessment Meeting           90
       
     
    100
 
Mediation Sessions
(Each session lasts for up to 1½ hours, to which we add ½ an hour for preparation and writing up - so costs are for 2 hours of work)
          360
       
      380
   
  400
Settlement Agreement / Memorandum of Understanding           150
       
      175
   
  200

Referral Form

Please follow this link to fill out our short referral form.
You are under no obligation to use GLEAMED but it would help us to understand your requirements.