When people think of the word ‘divorce’ they normally associate this with courts and conflict, however there are different processes to approaching separation and divorce that can minimise any disagreements which may arise. One of these is Mediation, “Mediation is the attempt to help parties in a disagreement to hear one another, to minimise the harm that can come from disagreements and to find a way of preventing the areas of disagreement from interfering with the process of seeking a compromise or mutually agreed outcome.”
The first of this two-part blog series discusses the qualifications you should look for in a mediator and the second blog next week will cover what to look for when trying to find a suitable mediator.
How you can qualify to be a mediator?
Well, let’s start at the beginning with how you can qualify to be a mediator. There are several nationally recognised bodies that train people to be mediators in family matters. The Family Mediators Association (FMA) trains people who have at least three years of experience in family law, social science, therapeutic or counselling services. They will consider other experience at their discretion. The ADR group and The College of Mediators provide foundation training for those with a similar experience. Another recognised body is Resolution – First For Family Law, Resolution only train family law solicitors and barristers to become mediators.
So, before you can train to be a mediator you have to have appropriate experience working with families. Then, you have to undertake an approved training course. The structure of these courses vary but with Resolution it is 8 days of training with lots of participation in mediation role plays, observing the trainers in role plays, discussions, background reading and a written project.
Are you with me so far? 3 years of experience working with families as a solicitor or barrister (who have 4 years of educational training and 2 years on the job training) and then 8 days of mediation training. Once you have passed the mediation training you must register as a mediator with a governing body such as those mentioned above. Alongside this, you also need to register with the Family Mediation Standards Board (FMSB) which is the central body for mediation. All mediators should be registered with the FMSB once they have undertaken their foundation training.
Then, over the next two years you are expected to work towards accredited status, although this two-year period can be extended. What is accredited status I hear you ask? Accredited status is a qualification that confirms that you meet nationally recognised standards in your mediation work. In the past the requirements to achieve accreditation were different for all of the above bodies, however work has taken place culminating in 2016 whereby there is now one standard for all new mediators who wish to attain accredited status.
Before applying for accreditation a mediator must have:
- Spent at least 4 hours each year with the Professional Practice Consultant (PPC) (similar to a mentor) as well as post training review with the PPC
- Observe mediations or co-mediate before conducting any mediations on their own
- Have a mediation observed by their PPC
- Conclude three mediations
- Meet their training bodies’ requirement for continuing training
Then, and only then, can the mediator apply for accreditation. This involves completing case studies on three of their mediations, answering questions, providing a personal statement about their mediation work and have a supporting statement from their PPC. This can take around 30 hours to put together this portfolio. This goes to an independent assessor and then, if you pass, you become accredited. The Family Mediation Council will recognise the accreditation. And this is where the title FMCA (Family Mediation Council Accredited) Mediator comes from.
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