Family Mediation

Mediation is a voluntary process where a mediator acts as an independent third party to encourage dialogue between two clients. It is often a good way for you to agree an outcome outside court.

Mediation can be used to resolve a wide-range of issues at any stage. It is flexible, cost-effective and means you can reach agreement between yourselves.

Mediation usually begins with an ‘intake’ meeting where each client meets with the mediator to find out more about the process, discuss their concerns and see if mediation will be suitable for them. Following the intake meetings, a first joint meeting is usually then organised where both clients will sit down with the mediator to draw up an agenda for the coming sessions.

Mediation can usually be concluded within five sessions but this will be dependent on the progress made at each meeting and the scope of the agenda. Once a proposal is reached that is acceptable to both clients, a summary is prepared by the mediator to then be passed to the clients’ solicitors. You can take advice from solicitors outside the process to inform the discussions.

Both Peter Burgess and David Lillywhite are Resolution-trained mediators. Peter is also accredited, meaning he can sign off court forms. Peter and David are available to mediate individually or together. 

Our family mediation services in London

Our family mediators, based in Clapham, South London, regularly assist clients residing in Clapham, Balham, Tooting, Wimbledon, Earlsfield and all over London. We offer highly skilled mediation for a wide range of issues, including:

  • Divorce and separation
  • Financial settlements
  • Arrangements for children
  • Parenting Plans
  • Grandparents’ contact with grandchildren
  • Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
  • Surrogacy and fertility law

We can help you quickly and cost-effectively find a solution that works for everyone, so you can resolve your family legal issues without the need for court action or unnecessary conflict.

Common questions about family mediation

How does family mediation work?

Mediation involves two or more people in dispute, such as a separating couple, meeting with a trained neutral mediator to discuss the areas of contention and try to agree a mutually acceptable solution.

The mediator’s role is to facilitate the discussion, defuse any potential for conflict and help the clients to explore the issues and potential solutions without taking sides.

What are the benefits of family mediation for divorce and separation?

Using mediation for divorce and separation offers a number of key advantages that have led to it becoming the most popular way to resolve these issues.

Benefits of mediation include:

  • Allowing you to get divorced or separate faster because you do not need to wait for a court date.
  • Saving you money because you do not need to pay the legal fees and costs associated with court action.
  • Minimising conflict because the focus is on agreeing a solution that works for both partners, rather than the more adversarial process involved in a court process.
  • Allowing you to maintain a better relationship with your former partner because the process is usually much more amicable. This can be especially beneficial where you have children that you will need to continue parenting together.

Is family mediation legally binding?

Any outcome reached through mediation will be voluntary, however, you can have the agreement made legally binding by applying to a family court for a Consent Order in relation to finances. This will set out the details of the agreement and both parties will then have to adhere to the terms of the Consent Order. This means neither party can change their mind. Child arrangements can be dealt with via an Order or parenting plan.

How long does it take to get a divorce through mediation?

It commonly takes around three to five sessions of mediation to resolve all of the issues surrounding a typical separation, however, exactly how many sessions you require will depend on your circumstances. How long the entire divorce process will take will hugely depend on your situation, but anywhere from 6-18 months is common. If you initiate divorce proceedings and your spouse does not defend the divorce petition, you can obtain a decree nisi. There is then a mandatory 43 day cooling off period, then you can apply for a decree absolute making the divorce final.

Do you have to go to mediation for divorce?

In most cases, divorcing couples are now required to consider mediation before being allowed to take their dispute to court. The divorce can be dealt with by the parties or their solicitors without going to mediation. This means couples have to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) where the mediation process and its benefits will be explained, and the couple can consider whether it is appropriate for them.

If you choose not to go ahead with mediation, you will need to get a signed form from an accredited mediator saying that you attended a MIAM before you will be allowed to have your finance or child arrangement issues dealt with at court.

However, there are some circumstances where mediation might not be appropriate, for example where there have been instances of domestic violence or if your spouse is no longer resident in the UK. In this case you will normally be able to apply directly to a family court to begin financial or children proceedings, although this is something you should discuss with your solicitor to ensure the process goes ahead smoothly.

What is the difference between mediation and collaborative law?

Collaborative law is an alternative to mediation.

The collaborative law process involves each spouse and their respective lawyers (who should have specific training in collaborative law) meeting to discuss the issues surrounding the divorce with the goal of creating a divorce settlement that works for both parties. The meeting may also include other relevant professionals, such as accountants or independent financial advisors.

At the outset, everyone involved in the collaborative law process signs an agreement. As part of this agreement, the lawyers working for each party will agree not to represent their clients in court if the divorce later comes before a judge. This means everyone will be fully committed to making the process a success as nobody stands to benefit if the process fails.

While collaborative law is normally more expensive than mediation and may take longer, it is still generally much less expensive and faster than taking your financial or children dispute through a family court.

Contact our family mediation solicitors now

To find out more about our family mediation service or to book an appointment, please call us now on 0203 824 9950 or email mail@burgessmee.com. We treat all calls and emails with complete confidence.