Guest post from Rosanne Cubitt, Joint Head of Professional Practice, covering all the key questions you need to ask before choosing a family mediator to work with.
1. What training has the mediator undergone and have they been assessed as competent?
It is important to find out whether the mediator has been trained to provide mediation specifically within the context of family conflict, divorce or separation and at what level. Equally this training should be comprehensive enough to give them the skills and knowledge to ensure you get the best outcome for you and your family.
All Relationships Scotland mediators undertake professional training, and the current course has been credit rated by Napier University at SCQF level 9. Topics include family law, the impact of separation on families, children’s needs, parenting apart, domestic abuse, child protection, conflict and power. The course takes up to 2 years to complete and includes co-mediation practice. Relationships Scotland mediators are assessed as competent through written and practical work.
2. What on-going quality assurance processes are there for ensuring the mediator is providing an effective and safe service?
Once you have selected a mediator who has undergone comprehensive training from a reputable organisation it is vital to ask whether or not they have any form of quality assurance in place.
Relationships Scotland mediators are required to undertake a minimum number of hours of casework per year. They are also required to participate in clinical supervision and on-going training (Continuing Professional Development) in order to remain on the Register of practising mediators within the network. Mediators work to the Relationships Scotland Code of Professional Conduct for Family Mediators and to a number to National and local policies including those relating to equality, safety and protection.
3. Is the mediator accredited for the purposes of the Civil Evidence (Family Mediation) (Scotland) Act 1995?
Mediation works well when people feel free to talk openly without being concerned that what is said will be used against them in court. If your family mediator is accredited for the purposes of the Civil Evidence (Family Mediation) (Scotland) Act 1995 this will ensure that what is said in mediation is not used as evidence in any civil court proceedings.
Relationships Scotland is approved by the Lord President of the Court of Session as an organisation eligible to accredit mediators for the purposes of the Civil Evidence Act ensuring our mediators will not be asked to give evidence in civil court proceedings.
4. Where is the mediator based and where will the mediation take place?
While it is vital that you select a properly qualified mediator another key element of your decision will be how far you have to travel for your mediation sessions. Mediation shouldn’t feel like a chore to get to.
Relationships Scotland has 80 mediators working throughout a network of 22 affiliated local services covering the whole of mainland and island Scotland. These local agencies use a large number of different venues to deliver services.
5. What will the mediator charge?
Mediation charges can vary, while you need to choose a service within your budget it is important that cost isn’t the only factor.
All Relationships Scotland affiliated local services that provide family mediation receive some funding from the Scottish Government. This does not cover all the costs and so some services will ask for a donation or make a charge, dependent upon your income. Contact your local service to find out specific charges.