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24 Family Mediation

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1. Introduction

2. What is mediation?

3. Who can use mediation?

4. What can I use mediation for?

5. When can I use mediation?

6. How is mediation different from counselling?

7. What happens in mediation?

Mediation takes place in a private and informal setting, with usually only the two of you and the mediator (or sometimes two mediators).

The mediator is there to help both of you and to make sure that you and your partner:

  • each listen to what the other has to say;
  • understand each other’s needs and concerns; and
  • try to find a solution.

The mediator will not tell you what to do and will not take sides, but they can share ideas with you and help you to look at different solutions.

How long does mediation take?
Mediation usually lasts for between two and five sessions, each of about an hour and a half. However, the time it takes depends on how complicated your dispute is.

What happens at the end of mediation?
At the end of mediation, you will usually get a written summary of the decisions you have both made. This is not a legally binding document and you should still see a solicitor before you commit yourself to a legal agreement or a court order.

Is mediation confidential?
What you say in mediation is normally confidential and the mediator will not pass on anything to anyone else unless both of you agree. However, there are two situations where information could be passed on:

  • If it seems from what is said during mediation that someone has been seriously hurt or is at risk of being hurt, the mediator should make sure that the police or social services are told.
  • If something is said in mediation that leads the mediator to believe that you or your partner is benefiting or has benefited from the proceeds of a crime, the mediator might have to stop the mediation or report this to the police.

What you say in mediation cannot be used in court later if the mediation breaks down. However, this does not apply to factual information that you give, such as details of your income and property. This can be used in any later court proceedings and passed to lawyers.

8. How much does mediation cost?

9. How do I find a mediator?

10. Further Help

11. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with the UK College of Family Mediators.

Leaflet Version: May 2019

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