As we have explained what mediation is, you may be wondering how it happens and what to expect.
Once you both have agreed to consider mediation, you each attend an initial session on your own with your mediator. We formally call this the “Mediation Information Assessment Meeting” or “MIAM”. This lasts up to 45 minutes and allows you and the mediator to talk about the issues you want to resolve, assess your entitlement to legal aid, look at the costs of the mediation, look at the number of sessions it may take, and the timescales involved. You also get a feel for where your mediation sessions will be taking place, and meet your mediator.
If both of you feel comfortable with the initial session and you and the mediator agree that mediation is suitable, then we progress to the main sessions, with both of you in the session with the mediator, and these sessions last around 60 minutes each, but can be longer by arrangement.
Mediation is a voluntary process, both of you should be there willingly, and the mediator is a neutral party, who is there to facilitate a solution for the benefit of both of you. The process is voluntary and confidential, so that you are both able to talk freely. All the decisions made in the sessions will be yours, as a result of talking through the situations and possibilities together, and then coming up with a mutually agreed decision.
Remember, what is agreed in mediation is not legally binding by default. If you come up with decisions in mediation that you later find don’t work out, you can change between yourselves, or return to mediation to work a new situation out. If needed, and you both agree, part or all off the agreement can be made legally binding, but you would seek separate legal advice on that before proceeding.
If you have not yet spoken to your partner about mediation, now would be a good time. Talk, Phone, email, text or write to them suggesting it, link to this site which will help explain it a little more, and what they can expect from it, and explain the positives that can result from coming up with your own agreement, rather than one created and imposed from solicitors and courts. Again, the initial “MIAM” meeting will answer further questions that they have, and ensure that you are both ready for the full mediation sessions.
The number of sessions you need depends on the issues that you want to talk about. It is also flexible, so if you need extra sessions, these are available. If you reach agreements positively and quickly, you may not need all of the initially suggested number of sessions. The time between sessions can also vary. In some cases, you may need information such as property or pension values to continue, and so we agree to get together again once these have been determined.
All the mediation sessions take place at our offices in Gloucester, during our normal opening hours of 9:00 – 17:00. We have a dedicated room, so that you are guaranteed privacy and feel comfortable and at ease discussing the issues. It will be the same mediator and the same room each time, providing you with a consistent approach to help you concentrate on dealing with the issues at each session.
Simply, you discuss what you want to talk about. In the initial meeting (MIAM) you will have spoken to the mediator generally about what you want to discuss, and in the first joint session we will talk more about these and start the process. If children are involved, we can talk about schooling, where the children will live, contact arrangements, holidays, birthdays and many other aspects. We can also talk about new relationships, step families, parenting plans and many other things, so that both parties have their wishes and concerns heard, so that together a plan gets created so that all of your needs are understood and addressed.
We can also talk about finances. This can involve what happens to the family home, investments, pensions, maintenance and support payments and the like. Money can be a sticking point in many discussions, so we require all this to be an open declaration between the two of you of the financial status, and from that point, you decide what the best way forward is based on that information.
Simply, if it’s important to you, we can talk about it. It may be simple things like who looks after the family pet, something a court may not greatly concern themselves about, but if it is important, then we talk about it, and come up with a solution, the time is yours to address your concerns.
The goal of the mediation is to come to a mutual agreement that addresses both parties concerns, and deals with all the issues discussed. As explained in “about mediation”, we create two documents, the agreement “MOU” and the financial statement “OFS”. These two documents should provide you with the framework to then continue on you own path to manage your issues going forward. If at any point, new issues arise, or the situation changes and you can’t initially agree on a new solution, then you are welcome to return to mediation to work through to create a new agreement that addresses the changes.