You and your partner will meet together with a mediator to help you talk over any problems and reach mutually acceptable agreements. We proceed on the basis that whatever your differences, both of you wish to reach the best solution for your children. This usually takes from 1-3 sessions each lasting an hour.
Everything said within the session is confidential. However confidentiality cannot be maintained if there is any question of the children being at risk. In such a case the mediator is bound to inform Social Services and mediation will be terminated.
The mediator will make notes of each session they have with you, and these are kept in a file. Client files are regularly audited by the Legal Services Commission.
Any agreement you reach will be written up by the mediator and sent to you both and, if appropriate, a copy will be sent to your solicitor with your permission.
The mediation service does not take the place of solicitors. During the mediation process you have the right to obtain independent legal advice, if you so wish.
Children are not directly involved in mediation but if there are issues where it is important for the children's views and feelings to be heard, mediators can arrange a separate session with the children. This is known as Direct Consultation with Children (DCC).Both parents and the mediator need to agree that this would be helpful to the mediation process before the children are seen.
We can still help you if you are already involved in a court case. We are independent of the court although you may find that the court suggests that you and your partner use the mediation service to see if you can reach an agreement and avoid arguing in court. The court will normally give you time for mediation. Less time in court means less cost, and also allows you to retain control of your family's future.
We shall not reveal what is discussed during mediation nor will it be used as evidence in court proceedings. But if a full agreement is reached, either party or his/her solicitor, can take this to court. If the court has suggested you come to mediation, we shall only tell the court whether or not an agreement has been reached, and not the details of the agreement.
Generally if the clients want to mediate then mediation can go ahead. Sometimes domestic abuse may have been an issue during their relationship. If this is the case and it is no longer a continuing problem, mediation can proceed.
The client has the right to decide not to mediate. The mediator will make the final decision as to whether mediation is suitable. The Service is unable to give reasons as to why mediation may not be suitable; this is because the service needs to maintain confidentiality and cannot take sides.