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 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 to discuss their situation and explore whether mediation is appropriate. This may be called an intake appointment. Information is shared and options are discussed. If after the initial appointments everyone agrees that mediation might be helpful a joint meeting is generally then arranged with a mediator. In mediation sessions family members have the opportunity to talk about their concerns, explore options and agree an acceptable way forward.

Sometimes it might be decided that individual sessions with a mediator, prior to a joint session, would be helpful or that shuttle mediation would be more appropriate. In shuttle mediation, family members remain in different rooms and communication takes place by the mediator moving between the rooms. The family members do not meet directly.

Family mediation is not appropriate in every situation. Your intake worker will discuss this with you and advise you of other services that may be more helpful for you.

How long does 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.

How much does family mediation cost?

When you contact the Member Service in your area you will be advised whether they ask for a suggested donation or if they have a set charge. You may be asked to make a contribution towards the cost if you cannot afford the full amount. In some cases you may be able to claim Legal Aid. Please speak to your nearest Member Service for more information.

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 FMs  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 Court proceedings unless both parties want it to be or if there are issues regarding the safety of children or adults, 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.

If you have concerns about your own safety or the safety of others please go to https://www.relationships-scotland.org.uk/family-support

What about the courts?

In Scotland 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.

What is 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 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.