Date updated: Wednesday 7th February 2024

What is mediation?

Mediation is a process where an independent, trained professional will help you both work out arrangements post separation.  There are many practical matters which need to be considered following separation, such as what arrangements might be best for the children, and how to separate out your finances, and a mediator can assist you as a separating couple to work through these issues together.

The decision making rests very firmly with the two of you and not the mediator and it can be highly effective in helping you both come to decisions together in respect of your children and / or your finances.  By working together in this way, it is hoped that the need for court involvement can be avoided, reducing cost and stress to you both and providing the best opportunity of preserving positive relationships between you both.

How does mediation start?

Before you start mediation, the mediator will meet with you both separately for your Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, also known as a MIAM.  

The mediator will explain the principles of mediation and how the sessions will work, they will also provide you with information about other processes in order that you can make an informed decision as to whether mediation is right for you.

We have prepared a separate brief video about the MIAM which you may wish to watch.

Once I’ve had my MIAM, what happens next?

When you have each had your individual MIAM appointment with the mediator and everyone, including the mediator, believes that mediation would be suitable, a joint session is then arranged for you both to attend with the mediator.

This can either be in person or remote.

How many mediation sessions will there be and how long does each session last?

It is important to remember that mediation is a process, as such it is likely that you may need more than one session in order to help you come to decisions. Each session is likely to last 90 minutes to 2 hours.  On average, a separating couple will usually need between 3 and 6 sessions but it depends on the issues involved and how complex the situation is.

Do I have to be in the same room as my former partner?

There are a variety of different options here. It can be helpful for mediation to be in person together but some people prefer to do mediation online. It is also possible for you to be in separate rooms (whether in person or virtual rooms) and for the mediator to move between each room. This is known as shuttle mediation and can be appropriate where there are higher levels of conflict.

My solicitor says that we need financial disclosure before we can agree the finances. How does this work?

If we are discussing the separation of finances within mediation, there will need to be full financial disclosure setting out your respective financial circumstances.  This will enable you to take decisions based on what your finances are, and also to talk through within mediation if you have any queries in relation to your former partner’s financial position.  

What happens if we are able to reach an agreement in mediation? How do I make sure this is then binding?

If it is possible for an agreement to be reached in mediation, this is not binding as any discussions within mediation remain ‘without prejudice’ until you have had the opportunity of seeking legal advice.  If joint proposals are reached in mediation, the mediator will draw up a Memorandum of Understanding setting out such proposals and how these have been reached.  

If the mediation also involves financial matters the mediator will also draw up a Summary of Financial Information setting out details of your respective financial circumstances.  These 2 documents will then enable a solicitor to draw up the agreement reached into a legally binding document, to be approved by the court where appropriate.