What happens at mediation
If you want to find out whether mediation can help you, the first step is to get in touch with your nearest local service or call 0345 119 2020. Our services are not open all the time so if you call and get an answer phone please leave your name and a number where you can be contacted and they will call you back.
Our services work in slightly different ways depending on their size, location and the number of mediators. However, once you make contact the service will explain how they work, when they have appointments available and how long it will take to arrange an appointment. Although we would like to be able to offer appointments when people first contact us, there may be a short waiting list.
Your first appointment
Each family member is offered an individual, confidential meeting, which may be called an intake appointment. Information is shared with a trained intake worker and options are discussed. If after the initial appointments everyone agrees that mediation might be appropriate a joint meeting is then arranged with a mediator. Family members have the opportunity to talk about their concerns, explore options and agree an acceptable way forward.
Family mediation is not appropriate in every situation. You will be advised of other services that may be more helpful for you.
How long does family mediation take?
Mediation sessions usually last between 1 and 1.5 hours. They are with the same mediator and can be arranged at intervals to suit the family circumstances. The number of mediation sessions that people attend varies, but is typically three to five.
You can come back to mediation at a later date if your circumstances or family’s needs change. People often return to mediation when a new baby comes along or a new partner.
What does family mediation cost?
All of our local services are independent charities. Family mediation may be provided free, or at a low cost dependent on your level of income. Some services provide mediation on financial and property matters and will charge for this. Other types of support may incur a small charge. Our services will always try to ensure that no-one is refused support due to their ability to pay.
Who are the mediators?
Family mediators are trained professionals who have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the complexity of family life and of separation, divorce and family restructuring. All our mediators work to professional standards and go through an annual renewal process to demonstrate that they have met the required standards of practice, supervision and Continuing Professional Development. Read our Code of Professional Conduct for Family Mediators. Read our Practice Standards for Family Mediators
What about confidentiality?
People can talk freely and frankly in mediation. What occurs during family mediation cannot be used in civil proceedings unless both parties want it to be or if there are issues regarding children’s safety or criminal activities.
Mediators are bound by a duty of confidentiality, unless circumstances suggest that the issues being discussed may pose a risk to clients or the wider community. Such issues include domestic abuse, child protection, money laundering and terrorism. In all circumstances, care is taken to protect confidentiality and no disclosure will be made without discussing the issues first, unless there is an urgent risk of harm.
What about the courts?
InScotland the courts will not become involved in the decisions families make following a separation unless they are asked. Mediation can help you to make decisions about children without going to court. However if you do go to court even at that stage the sheriff may refer you to your local family mediation service.
Direct consultation with children
Family mediation focuses on putting children first. Families can do this best by listening to and trying to understand them. Most of the local family mediation services offer the option of the mediator meeting the children individually to hear their views on what their parents have been discussing in mediation. The mediator agrees with the children what they would like to feed back into the mediation process for their parents to hear.