Do I need a divorce mediator?
The short answer is it depends on your specific situation. You may have heard about mediation for families on divorce – but what actually does it entail and should you use a divorce mediator? If you are having trouble agreeing the parenting arrangements for your children, what is going to happen to your property or how the finances are going to be divided, then you should certainly consider it as an option.
There are many myths and misconceptions about using a divorce mediator. In this blog we look at some of the more common ones and explain how the process works; whether it can be successful for your case and why you should usually at least research divorce mediation for your situation. If you have any questions that are not answered below, or not sure if using a divorce mediator is right for your situation, you can contact us and we will answer your questions as best we can.
What is mediation in divorce?
Mediation in divorce is a mediation process to help you agree on the parenting arrangements or the financial agreement of your divorce or separation. You do not need to attend divorce mediation if you can agree between yourselves or if one of you does not want to do it.
Divorce mediation is not about confirming whether your relationship has ended or looking back over the relationship to see who is to blame. It is very much about organising the parenting and financial aspects of your split – with the aim of helping you draft a parenting plan or memorandum of understanding on your financial agreement.
Do I have to go to a mediator for divorce
No you do not need to see a divorce mediator to file for a divorce. You can start the divorce yourself online, or you can instruct a solicitor to act for you. Using a mediator for divorce is a good idea when you need help reaching an agreement on any financial or parenting matters.
If you decide to use Mediate UK to help you reach an agreement, we can also process the whole divorce, or make your agreement legally binding through our fixed fee legal packages. Very few mediation services offer this as an option, so it is worth checking.
Do you have to pay for mediation?
You do not have to pay for divorce mediation in every case. There is legal aid available for divorce mediation if you are on a low income or certain benefits. If you have been a victim of domestic abuse then you do not have to attend mediation in order to apply to court and there is also legal aid available for a solicitor to help you in such circumstances.
You can find out if you are eligible for legal aid here.
Otherwise divorce mediation is usually charged per hour for each party. According to the Family Mediation Council, the average cost of mediation per hour, per person is £140 including VAT.
Does mediation for families check if we want to divorce?
No, your divorce mediator does not discuss your previous relationship or check to make sure that you are both ready to divorce. Instead, they will look at how you intend to communicate moving forwards, which is especially important if you have children together. As mediation is a fairer, more amicable way to resolve disputes, this will also impact positively on your future relation. Relationship counselling can help with this instead, which would usually be a step before divorce mediation is started.
Why consider mediation before divorce?
It is a legal requirement in most cases to at least consider mediation before court. There are several exceptions to this rule. The blog “Fifteen Exemptions to Attending a MIAM” explains each of these in more detail. This blog also goes into more detail about why you should consider mediation if you are unable to agree on the financial or parenting arrangements.
Where can I find a mediator service near me?
The Family Mediation Council has a directory where you can search for mediators local to you. You can search by their name or by your postcode. You can also choose mediators who offer legal aid.
Mediate UK can help with your cases if you are not eligible for legal aid. As long as one of you is habitually resident in England or Wales, then we can help with your case, wherever you are in the world!
Are all divorce mediation services the same?
Not all mediation services are created equal. The first check is to make sure they are a member of one of the Family Mediation Council’s five membership bodies (above). If not you should probably stay away. You need to check that the divorce mediator can sign court forms in case mediation breaks down or doesn’t go ahead – otherwise you will have to do a separate MIAM with another service, that is qualified to sign forms.
As with any professional service, personal recommendations and genuine client reviews should always be a factor to decide who to use for your case.
Also, make sure the service you are using is not just offloading your case to different mediators who they have no direct control or supervision over. It is important to have the same mediator throughout your case – one that you feel comfortable working with.
How much do divorce mediators charge?
If you are eligible for legal aid, then you will not have to pay for your divorce mediation – though there is a limit on how many hours you can have to agree your case. If you are not eligible for legal aid, but the other party is, then you do not have to pay for your first appointment (the MIAM) or for your first joint mediation session. You will have to pay for your half of any subsequent sessions after this.
If neither of you is eligible for legal aid, then the average charge per hour is £140 per person. Some services will vary the cost depending on how much you earn, how much the monetary dispute is over, or if you want an appointment outside of normal working hours. A family solicitor who also does divorce mediation is likely to charge more per hour. Mediate UK charge from £130 per person per hour – irrespective of your salary or what day or time you want to book in your appointment.
Do I need a solicitor and a divorce mediator?
You do not have to have a solicitor if you choose divorce mediation to resolve your dispute. But you should always consider taking independent legal advice on your situation – even if it is to sense check your agreement reached through your divorce mediator
Mediate UK offer three services, which will all give you a written report on the advice, specific to your case:
A one-hour package, which includes a 20-30 minute phone call and written report of the legal advice. Its great to get a legal steer on what you should be asking for in mediation. £299 inc VAT.
A two-hour package, which includes up to 80 minutes on the phone and a written report of the legal advice. The 80 minutes does not need to be used all in one go, so can helpfully compliment the mediation process. £399 inc VAT.
Memorandum Legal Advice, this is where the family law solicitor will check your agreement that has been reached in family mediation and recorded in your Memorandum of Understanding. They will then write a report of their findings and this allows you to show the court you have taken independent legal advice on the agreement reached. £299 inc VAT.
What is mediation in divorce?
Mediation in divorce is a Ministry of Justice approved mediation process that uses a tried and trusted method of dispute resolution, in order to help you both reach an agreement on the financial and parenting arrangements. Mediate UK use a method of mediation called progressive mediation which is focused on helping you move on and get to an agreement. It works for 90% of our clients. The national average for a successful divorce mediation is 73% – so whichever divorce mediator service you use, the odds are with you to reach agreement
Who pays for mediation?
Divorce mediation fees are usually shared equally and most mediation services will quote prices per person. However either party can pay for the full costs by agreement. There is more in our blog ‘Who pays for family mediation’.
What happens in mediation?
Every divorce mediator operates differently, but the principals of divorce mediation are the same. You will usually have an opportunity to speak with the divorce mediator individually at first. This allows you to talk freely about what you would like, what your hopes are, the issues to be discussed and to address any concerns.
The divorce mediator should ensure that each party is able to talk in mediation, that there is parity in the room and that you are focused on solving the issues to be addressed, rather than discussing other matters.
The divorce mediator will always be neutral and can share legal knowledge and experience of what has worked in other similar cases. They will not take sides or tell you what to do. Once you reach an agreement on all issues they will draft these into a memorandum of understanding.
What if mediation fails?
If divorce mediation breaks down, with some or all of the issues unresolved you still have a few options. Mediate UK offer a barrister review, which tells you what a court is likely to order in your specific situation.
You can ask your solicitors to take over negotiations, or you can apply to court or go to arbitration. In many cases, divorce mediation can help to reduce the scope of the dispute, so you can ask the court to just make a decision on matters you cannot agree on. This can save you time and money.
Our blog, “What can I do if mediation breaks down?” goes into more depth about the options open to you.
How long does mediation take?
The amount of time you need to resolve your dispute is very much dependent on you both. Mediate UK’s progressive mediation method is set up to help you focus on the issues and finding solutions. We know the process we have developed works in 90% of cases. The average amount of sessions for finances or parenting is two to three 90-minute sessions.
Where can I find advice on mediation?
Our family law blog is regularly updated with tips to help you research most topics related to divorce mediation. There are tips on mediation for divorce and online mediation.
Our FAQ page also has answers to many of the more common questions on divorce mediation.
Is mediation legally binding in the UK?
The outcomes agreed in divorce mediation are not legally binding. Once you reach an agreement you will usually need to visit a solicitor to have it made into a legally binding agreement. Mediate UK offer a fixed fee service for this and importantly, our solicitors will not look to undo the agreement reached in divorce mediation.
What happens if I don’t go to mediation in the UK?
If you don’t go to a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) you cannot usually make an application to court to resolve your parenting or financial dispute. If you are asked to attend divorce mediation, you should always consider it as a minimum. This is because if your case does to court, they will want to see that you have acted reasonably and responsibly in trying to sort out the problem. Failure to do so could result in legal costs being awarded against you. It can also affect the judgement that is made for your case.
In many cases, the judges are deferring their decisions until divorce mediation has been attempted. Our blog “Will it Look Bad if I Refuse to go to Mediation” goes into more detail and includes some case studies where the refusal to mediate has cost the individual involved.
What is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM
The MIAM has two purposes. It is a chance for you to explain to the divorce mediator a little about your situation, your hopes, issues and concerns. It is also an opportunity for the divorce mediator to explain more about divorce mediation to you and to answer any questions you may have.
The divorce mediator may decide that mediation is not suitable for your case, or you may decide that you don’t want to do it, having considered it in more detail. If mediation does proceed, the MIAM will also allow the divorce mediator to plan for the joint mediation sessions; for example you may want to do shuttle mediation, where you are in separate rooms or on separate screens. Or you may need a breakout room or even another mediator to help.
You can also read our Ultimate Guide to a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting for more details about is involved in a MIAM.
What is the divorce mediation process?
Mediate UK us a tried and trusted mediation process for divorce mediation. Other services are likely to operate differently to this as they don’t offer the legal options once agreement is reached. On this page we explain the divorce mediation process in a clear flowchart (scroll down the page).
It is worth noting, we cannot contact the other party until you have had your MIAM as mediation may not be suitable. There are many instances where one party has previously declined mediation verbally, but agrees to try it once they have been formally invited by your divorce mediator.
Can I skip mediation and go straight to court?
In most cases you will have had to at least considered mediation by way of attending a MIAM. In some situations, where you know mediation is not suitable, where you know the other party will not respond, or where mediation has previously broken down you may want to consider an Urgent MIAM. Mediate UK offer these for situations where specifically you do not wish to see a divorce mediator.
An urgent MIAM costs £199 inc VAT and can usually be set up in 24 hours. The court form is usually then emailed to you or your solicitor the same day.
How can a divorce mediator help my case
A divorce mediator can help you focus on the issues that need to be resolved and focus on the priorities for your situation.
They can help you to compromise and reach an agreement that both sides can move forwards with. They can also help keep your legal costs down and help you to reach an agreement much quicker than through solicitor negotiation or going to court.
Mediate UK have a friendly and professional team of experienced divorce mediators, who all receive additional ongoing supervision and training by us and constantly receive outstanding 5* reviews.
Why not give us a try – we would love to help with your situation.
We are also experts in helping people achieve a fair agreement on their parenting, property and financial arrangements.
Call us on 0330 999 0959 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can help you find your future.