If the first meeting (MIAM) goes well and you all agree to try mediation, you will book mediation sessions. It usually takes between three and five meetings to come to agreement, depending on what you need to sort out.
The mediator will usually see you and your ex partner together, although you should be offered the choice to see the mediator separately if you need to.
What does the mediator do?
Mediators are trained to:
- Listen and help you both to work out what has to be dealt with
- Discuss what your options might be and what might work best for the future.
- Make sure you both have chance to speak and be heard
- Provide any information needed to help your discussions
- Tell you when you might need further independent advice on matters such as pensions
- Ensure decisions are made jointly, are fair for both of you, for any children involved, and for your family circumstances
When you reach agreement, the mediator will put it in writing and make sure you’re all clear about what it means.
Are the decisions we make legally binding?
The decisions you reach aren’t legally binding on their own. But you can ask a court to make what you’ve decided into a legally binding consent order. Your mediator can explain what this is and how you can get a consent order.
There is a cost for this court application and your mediator will be able to provide information about this. If you get legal aid you may qualify for free legal advice and help with this.
Can I get legal advice on whether the proposed agreement is fair for me?
Most people going through mediation find it helpful to have legal advice to support them. You can arrange this at any time and your mediator may also recommend you do if you are talking about things that relate to a legal issue. The mediator can give you information about local family solicitors and how to choose one. If you get legal aid for mediation, you may also get free legal advice during mediation.
What if things don’t go as planned afterwards?
If your situation changes and the arrangements aren’t working, you can go back to the mediator to change the original agreement.
If you’ve made an agreement legally binding and somebody doesn’t follow it, you should consider whether it can be sorted out with the help of a mediator. If not, it can be enforced through the courts.