Many people are not sure whether mediation is going to be a suitable way of helping them to resolve matters that are important to them. It can seem like a very daunting and unknown process. This blog post sets out some common questions people raise when considering whether mediation will be right for them.

We aren’t looking to get back together can mediation still help?

Yes. Mediation is not about getting you back together. Family mediation aims to help you to work out how things will work as a result of the separation.

Is mediation suitable if we are on a really tight budget?

Mediation can be a really cost-effective way of working out a way forward following a relationship breaking down. Whilst the government have more or less scrapped legal aid/public funding for family matters there is some funding available to cover the costs of mediation in certain circumstances. You can check to see if you are eligible for legal aid/public funding online at https://www.gov.uk/check-legal-aid. We don’t provide mediation funded by legal aid, but you can find mediators that do online at https://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator/.

We have never been married can we still use family mediation?

It doesn’t matter if you were married, in a civil partnership, living together, or never did any of these things. If you have split up or are struggling to agree with your former partner (or indeed another family member) about what’s going to happen to your home, money, children or any other issues then family mediation may be able to help.

There is an imbalance of power between us, will mediation be suitable?

Imbalances of power are common in many relationships. Sometimes a broad form of equality is achieved overall by one person being stronger in some respects and the other being stronger in different ways. Our family mediators have been trained to assess and readdress power imbalances within the mediation process. Ground rules can be implemented. Mediators can assist in what information needs to be gathered and shared to help bring about more equality and can also work out what other professional advice or assistance is needed to provide a more equal balance. Co mediation may assist, take a look at my previous blog on this here. A power imbalance does not therefore automatically mean mediation should be ruled out, as long as any power imbalances can be adequately redressed so the mediation can be fair and effectively conducted.

There has been abuse during the relationship, is mediation still suitable?

A mediator will need to meet with you both to assess whether mediation is going to be safe and look at what measures would need to be put in place to help, for instance this might be arrangements for you and your former partner to use separate waiting rooms, you both arriving and leaving at different times, having separate meetings, or meetings where you and your former partner are in different rooms and the mediator goes from one to the other.

For mediation to go ahead everyone needs to agree that concerns can be discussed without fear. If everyone decides to go ahead, the mediator will keep this in mind at every session.

If there has been difficulties in the relationship which have led to one person being unable to make their own decisions as a result of violence, emotional or financial abuse or if there are legal restrictions in place to prevent you from being near each other then mediation will not be suitable.

If the protection of the court is required then this will also make mediation unsuitable, for instance where abuse has taken place and a child is at risk or if someone is dissipating assets and the court’s powers to freeze assets are needed.

In cases where you and/or your former partner are anxious about being in the same room together and/or the relationship is very acrimonious and communication between you is difficult or non-existent mediation might however still be suitable.

Will mediation be suitable if I have no understanding of our financial situation?

Possibly, yes. As part of the mediation process financial information will need to be gathered and shared so everyone has a clear understanding of the financial situation. Financial and/or legal advice can be sought alongside the mediation process to assist you further. Mediating does not mean negotiating in the absence of information or understanding.  There does not need to be any less rigour when it comes to financial disclosure than there would be if you were to go through other dispute resolution processes. If however information is being deliberately withheld or being hidden then mediation will not be suitable.

We can’t agree and neither of us are willing to compromise, could mediation still help us?

It is very common for separating couples to disagree and be in deadlock over certain issues. That is not a barrier to mediation. Our mediators are trained to try and help you break that deadlock.

Our mediators are trained to help you decide if mediation is right for you. If you are unsure whether mediation would be suitable then please contact our mediation team to discuss your situation and the options available.

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