Family mediation is an increasingly popular way to resolve disputes and reach agreements over children or finances. In mediation, a neutral person facilitates a discussion between the parties and encourages compromise. It can help to restore or preserve relationships, and is a more cost-effective option than going to court. Moreover, people are more likely to comply with an agreement that they have been part of crafting.
The process can be completed in one day or over a series of sessions as chosen by the participants. It is a voluntary and consensual process, so the outcome is determined by the parties, not the judge. Unlike litigation, mediation is confidential.
The Family Mediation Association provides information about family mediators in England and Wales, as well as training for family mediators. Mediation services are also offered by local authorities, community organisations and the voluntary sector.
When preparing for a family mediation, it is helpful to write down a list of issues that you want to address. The list can include anything that is important to you, including non-legal issues that might be difficult to discuss in court (for example, drug and alcohol problems). It is also a good idea to make sure that you have sufficient sleep before attending a mediation, as it will be more productive. Try to avoid bringing up personal attacks, such as calling the other person names or lying. During the mediation, try to focus on the children and what is best for them.