Victoria Hope - profile

Family mediation

What is mediation and is it compulsory?

Mediation is one form of non-court dispute resolution.  Individuals can use the process to address a wide range of family-related issues.  The purpose of family mediation is to help people address issues, including arrangements relating to children, finances and property, arising out of the breakdown of their marriage or relationship in an informal and non-confrontational manner.  The process is intended to give people an opportunity to control the outcome of the dispute themselves, rather than having the matter determined/imposed by the court.

Mediation is a voluntary process.  However, subject to certain exemptions, it is not possible to issue an application for a child arrangements order or an application for a financial order unless a party has attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (a MIAM) with an accredited mediator.

What are the principles of mediation?

It is important that those taking part in the process understand and adhere to the principles of mediation.  The main principles of mediation are:

  1. It is a voluntary process.  The mediator and everyone taking part in the process have to agree that mediation is suitable.
  2. It is a confidential process, except where there are concerns of risk of harm to a child or vulnerable adult, or, if a statement is made which discloses a criminal offence or a breach of money laundering legislation.  Confidentiality is an essential component of mediation as it allows the participants to share openly their ideas and proposals without fear that they can be subsequently used against them, for example, in Court.
  3. The mediator is impartial and has no authority to determine any issues which are raised during the course of the process.  The mediator can provide information to the participants during the process.  However, they are not able to provide any advice. The role of the mediator is to facilitate discussions between the participants in the hope that they can agree proposed arrangements on any points which are in dispute between them.  If an arrangement is reached via mediation then those taking part in the process will have the opportunity to take legal advice from their solicitors before the proposed arrangement becomes legally binding.

What are the benefits of family mediation?

There are many benefits to mediation.  The process is intended to give people an opportunity to control the outcome of the dispute themselves, rather than having the matter determined/imposed upon them by the Court.  Court proceedings can cause unnecessary rancour and bitterness between the parties.  The legal costs associated with protracted litigation can also be substantial.

The process should also help to preserve good relations between the participants going forward.  This is particularly important when there are children involved.  During the course of mediation, a family mediator will encourage those taking part in the process to focus on the needs and interests of their children.  This should help the clients to co-parent and work together as separated parents.

In summary, the mediation process and all of its principles are designed to help maintain relations between people and to help them stay in control of the decisions which affect their lives and also their children’s lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the participants’ solicitors be present during the process?

No.  Usually the parties do not attend with their solicitors as this will substantially increase the participants’ legal costs. 

Is family mediation legally binding?

No.  Any arrangements reached via mediation will not be legally binding.  The mediator will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding (an MOU) which will record the arrangements which the participants have reached via mediation.  A copy of this document will usually be sent to the participants’ solicitors.  The participants will then have the opportunity to take legal advice from their solicitors before the proposed arrangements become legally binding and, if applicable, converted into a Consent/Court Order.

How many sessions will we need?

If you want to discuss a relatively straightforward issue, then usually you will only have to attend two to three sessions.  However, if you wish to address more complex matters, for example, the financial claims arising out of the breakdown of your marriage or relationship, then you may have to attend between 4 to 6 sessions before you will be able to come to an overall accord/arrangement.  At the start of the process, the mediator will also ask you whether there are any issues which you want to deal with as a priority.

How much are the mediation costs?

Roythornes charges £100 plus VAT for a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (a MIAM).  Each participant will be required to attend a separate MIAM with our mediator.

After the initial MIAM, mediation sessions are usually booked for 90 minutes.  However, we can offer half day sessions, if requested.  We charge £150 plus VAT (i.e. £180 in total) per person for each 90 minute session.  There will be a separate charge for preparing the outcome documents and for dealing with any communications or documents received from the participants during the course of the process.

We do not offer legally aided mediation services. If you are financially eligible for Legal Aid, you would need to retain the services of a Mediation Service which has a contract with the Legal Aid Agency.

How to find out more

If you have any queries regarding mediation, our charges or the process in general, or, if you would like to find out more about our mediation services, then please contact us on 01775 842 500.

Our solicitor mediator

Victoria Hope is a qualified mediator with Resolution and is working towards accreditation.  She is an Senior Associate of the firm and has over 13 years’ experience in family law.  She specialises in all areas of family law, including divorce, financial proceedings, pre- and post-nuptial agreements and issues affecting children (such as child support and contact issues).  Victoria has specialist experience in dealing with both straightforward and complex cases, including those involving businesses, farms, pensions and family trusts and has represented trustees in financial remedy proceedings.