Mediation is a hot family law topic at the moment, with the Government launching their consultation on compulsory mediation earlier this year.

For lots of separating couples, it is hard to tell if mediation will be the right option and to trust that you can have a safe discussion about the topics that matter.

What is mediation?

Mediation is a method of sorting any differences between parties, with the help of a third person who won’t take sides and will ‘mediate’ discussions. They can often help parties to reach an agreement on issues such as money, property and children.

The Government is incentivising couples to go to mediation over arrangements for their children in particular, with their Family Mediation Voucher Scheme which has been extended until April 2025. The scheme provides separating couples with vouchers worth up to the value of £500 to help them mediate to agree on child arrangements. The national family law group Resolution has also supported this scheme being extended to couples who need to reach agreements about financial arrangements upon separation, although this extension has not yet been introduced by the Government.

What is ‘child-inclusive’ mediation?

‘Child-inclusive’ mediation shares the same intent and approach as child focused mediation but it additionally involves the child’s voice in mediation. It provides opportunities for children to express their views directly to the mediator. Mediators who carry out ‘child-inclusive’ mediation will be specially trained to speak with children and take their views in a friendly and non-pressured way. Often, child-inclusive mediators will also assist parents and carers to understand their child’s wishes. This helps to ensure the child’s voice is heard, which can be something that is missing from the court process.

Family Mediation Council standards say that all children over the age of 10 should be offered the opportunity to have their voices heard during mediation if they wish. Child-inclusive mediation can also be conducted for younger children, if appropriate to do so. While a relatively new concept, child-inclusive mediation is becoming an increasingly popular option among professionals working with separated families.

Can I get legal advice alongside mediation?

The short answer is – yes.

Anyone going to mediation can go to a family lawyer before or during the mediation process for advice. Many individuals going to mediation feel more empowered to enter discussions from a well-informed standpoint by having discussions with a family lawyer beforehand. This applies to any discussions you may wish to have in mediation with respect to both child arrangements and financial discussions.

When thinking about arrangements for your children, it can be really helpful to have a confidential discussion with a family law specialist beforehand to understand the different options and processes available. This often enables you to feel comfortable about how you can make choices which are in the best interests of your children.

If you are having difficulty reaching an agreement with your ex-partner, and want to discuss the options available to you, contact us to book a confidential discussion.

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Alice Gibson joined GL Law in 2022 prior to the merger with Shakespeare Martineau in October 2022. Alice is is a solicitor specialising in all family law matters including divorce & financial remedy, child arrangements matters and cases involving domestic abuse.

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Published: 25th July 2023
Area: For the individual

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