Family Mediation can be broken down into three core types - Child, Property and Finance, and All Issues. Below isa summary of what is covered in each of these types of mediation.
However, before reading on, please remember that we understand that every relationship is different, and that there is a no 'one-size-fits-all' approach. Because of this huge variability there may, for example, be times when asset issues are discussed within a child case, or vice versa. All mediation sessions are built around the attendees' issues, with the mediator there to support the process and to help remove any conflict from the decision making process.
Child Only Mediation
One of the biggest issues for many couples separating is agreeing how to look after children. There are many possible solutions to this question, from co-parenting to sole custody. Child Only mediation aims to ensure that the child has the structure and security they need to thrive.
In all child-focused cases, safeguarding the child is a priority for the mediator, ensuring that parents put the child's views at the forefront of decision making.
In some situations Child Inclusive Mediation, in which the child attends the mediation session too, may be a valuable approach.
Property and Finance Mediation
During the lifetime of a relationship couples can amass a range of assets, such as a family home, a business, pensions, savings, and investments. When you decide to split up, agreeing how to divide these can be both a daunting and a confrontational process.
Mediation focusing on these elements of a partnership will require both parties to complete a set of documents that will enable them to value their assets and liabilities.
Due to the complexity of this type of mediation, it often results in the need for more than one mediation session.
All Issues Mediation
As the title suggests, AIM cases cover children, property and finance mediation. Due to the complexity and interdependence between money issues and how a child is to be brought up, it often means that mediation has to cover the full range of issues.
While sometimes one mediation session is sufficient for an agreement to be reached, it is also common for cases to be addressed over two or more sessions. In most cases your mediator will give you a guide as to how many sessions your situation is likely to require. If more than one session if required, your mediator will issue a set of notes to both parties after each session, summarising what was discussed and what will happen next.
At the end of the mediation process it will be clear whether an agreement has been reached or not. If it has, your mediator will issue you with a concluding document summarising the agreements. This document can take a range of forms, and your mediator will explain these to you during the process.
The decisions you reach are not legally binding on their own. But you can ask a court to make what you’ve decided into a legally binding consent order. Your mediator can explain what this is and how you can get a consent order.
What happens if no agreement is reached?
If the mediation process does not achieve the outcome you had hoped for, then your mediator will issue a set of notes following the final sessions. On closing the file, the Trust will issue (on your request) the relevant court papers to enable the case to be taken to court.
Following the mediation process
If your situation changes over time and the arrangements you made previously are not working, you can go back to your mediator to change the original agreement.
If you’ve made an agreement legally binding and one party doesn’t follow it, you should consider whether that can be sorted out with the help of a mediator. If not, it can be enforced through the court.