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What are Safeguarding Concerns and how are they dealt with in Mediation?

What are Safeguarding Concerns and how are they dealt with in Mediation?

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Handling safeguarding issues in family mediation requires careful attention and proactive management of the various challenges that might come up. These issues cover a wide range of concerns, all focused on ensuring the safety, well-being, and rights of everyone involved, especially vulnerable individuals like children or those experiencing domestic abuse.

Since family mediation aims to promote positive communication and resolution in emotionally charged situations, addressing safeguarding concerns is essential for the family mediator. This ensures fairness, honesty and ultimately, successful outcomes for your mediation.

Understanding Safeguarding Concerns

Safeguarding concerns involve many different risks. Even though these risks vary, they all pose serious challenges to the well-being and safety of everyone in the family mediation process. Here are a few examples:

Child Welfare

Ensuring the safety and well-being of children is a priority in family mediation. This includes protecting them from neglect, abuse and exposure to conflict that could harm their wellbeing and development.

Read our blog about the Welfare Checklist HERE

Domestic Abuse

Handling cases of domestic violence or abuse requires sensitivity. Mediators must ensure that the process doesn’t increase the vulnerability of victims and that all parties can safely express their concerns.

Read more about family mediation with an abusive ex-partner here.

Mental Health

Mental health issues within the family can significantly impact family mediation. It’s important to address these concerns with empathy to ensure everyone can participate effectively and make informed decisions that last.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse adds an extra level of complexity to family mediation. Mediators need to carefully assess these situations, considering how addiction affects their parenting and the overall family dynamics.



What Happens if a Safeguarding Concern is Raised in Your MIAM?

When safeguarding concerns arise during the MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting), mediators must act decisively to address them. Depending on the severity, family mediation might be deemed unsuitable, leading to legal proceedings or referrals to specialist support services. If mediation proceeds, there are many safeguarding measures are can be put in place, such as shuttle mediation, where parties stay in separate rooms and the mediator moves between them or co-mediation, where two family mediators are in the room with you.

Dealing with Safeguarding Concerns in Family Mediation

Integrating safeguarding into family mediation involves several strategies:

  • Pre-screening and Assessment: Before starting mediation, thorough assessments identify potential safeguarding issues like domestic abuse, substance misuse, or mental health problems.
  • Establishing Ground Rules: Clear rules ensure a safe and respectful mediation environment, including guidelines on respectful communication, confidentiality, and challenging any intimidation or coercion.
  • Using Shuttle Mediation: This method allows parties to remain in separate rooms while the mediator facilitates discussions, reducing potential risks or discomfort. Shuttle mediation is usually held online for ease of managing the process.
  • Neutral and Safe Environment: Sessions are held in secure locations or via remote, online mediation to ensure safety and confidentiality.
  • Involving Support Services: Collaborations with social workers, legal advisors and mental health professionals provide additional support for those facing safeguarding concerns.
  • Child-Inclusive Mediation: Specially trained mediators ensure that children’s voices are heard safely and supportively.
  • Continual Assessment and Review: Safeguarding concerns are regularly reviewed to maintain the safety and well-being of all parties.


Safeguarding is at the core of family mediation, requiring careful attention and proactive measures to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. By prioritising the needs of vulnerable parties and incorporating safeguarding protocols, family mediators can help facilitate constructive dialogue, mutual understanding and sustainable resolutions.

Family mediators have the expertise to determine if mediation is unsuitable and the matter should therefore go to court and they are not obligated to provide explanations for their decision

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