Mediation is when separated or separating couples meet with someone who’s been trained to help them come to practical decisions, including making arrangements for children. All parents can choose to go through mediation – even those who have been separated for a long time or have never lived together.
Do I have to go through mediation?
Following a change to the law in 2011, if you are currently going through a legal separation there is an expectation that you try to resolve the matter through mediation before you make an application to a court.
There are exceptions to this and the rules can be complex. We recommend that you seek expert advice to see how these rules affect you.
How mediation can help you
- help you make decisions before or after you’ve separated or divorced.
- help you both work together to decide what’s best for your child.
- reduce conflict between you and your child’s other parent
- make a flexible, lasting agreement on issues such as child maintenance.
- be cheaper than going to court.
The cost of mediation
It can be difficult to work out how much mediation might cost. If you qualify for legal aid, it could be free. But if you’re paying for it yourself, the charges vary between different mediators. The costs of mediation can vary between England, Wales and Scotland too.
Don’t be afraid to ask for prices before agreeing to any mediation sessions. And remember that no matter how much it costs, mediation will often be cheaper than going to court.
If you can’t afford to pay for mediation
If you can’t afford to pay for professional mediation, and you can’t get it for free, then you could ask someone you know to act as a mediator for you.
They could help you to:
- avoid saying or doing things which might make the situation worse
- keep everyone focused on what’s best for children
- reach agreement with your child’s other parent
Make sure it’s someone that you trust and who you think can stay neutral.