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What is family mediation?

Family mediation is a way of helping couples resolve their disputes after separation, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. It can also help parents resolve disputes about the children with other family members, such as grandparents, without using the courts, if appropriate. It is a voluntary process where people can meet safely in the presence of a family mediator to discuss financial disagreements or arrangements for children.

The family mediator is trained to help couples try and resolve their disputes without having to use the courts. The family mediator is impartial and independent, and does not take sides or tell people how to sort out their problems. Mediation does not aim to help people get back together, but to help them manage their future better.

A family mediator is trained to help people in separation and family breakdown. A family mediator does not offer legal advice but can give information.

Types of family mediation

Family mediation can take different forms. Usually the parties in dispute meet the mediator in the same room. Sometimes the parties are in separate rooms and the mediator moves between the two, talking to both parties and exchanging information.

Sometimes the parties in dispute and the mediator decide they need to speak to one or all of the children. This depends on the individual case, and is not something that happens automatically.

Mediation meetings tend to last about one and a half hours, although they can be shorter. The meetings tend to be about children or money matters but they can be about both (called 'all-issues mediation').

Mediation can help resolve family disputes more quickly, cheaply and in a more friendly way than if you use the courts. Where mediation is used in a dispute, about 68% of cases reach a full agreement or narrow down the issues in dispute.

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