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What is the Difference between Family Mediation and Marriage Counselling?


Marriage CouncellingFamily mediation and marriage counselling are two different approaches to resolving conflicts within a marriage.

Family mediation is a process where a neutral third-party mediator helps two parties to resolve disputes arising through a separation or divorce. This is done by facilitating communication and negotiation. Mediation can be used for a variety of issues, such as divorce, separation, child arrangements, financial matters, and property division.

The mediator works to help the parties identify areas of agreement and to negotiate solutions that are acceptable to everyone involved. The goal of mediation is to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that works for everyone. It does not discuss the relationship, who was to blame or try to get you back together.  Instead it focuses on helping you both move forwards in your lives by agreeing the parenting arrangements for your children, where you will both be living, division of any assets and whether any ongoing payments between you are to be made.

Marriage counselling, on the other hand, is a form of therapy that focuses on the relationship between two partners in a marriage. The goal of marriage counselling is to help couples improve their relationship, address specific issues or problems, and enhance communication skills.

Marriage counselling can address a wide range of issues, such as infidelity, financial problems, communication issues, and parenting disagreements.

The order in which counselling and mediation are pursued may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the situation. In some instances, family mediation may be the first step, especially if the parties have already tried counselling and it has been unsuccessful. In other cases, counselling may not be necessary, and family mediation may be the best option from the outset. Let’s take a closer look at both processes.


Marriage counselling is a therapeutic process that involves exploration of emotions and feelings. In most cases, this process is utilised with the goal of reconciliation in mind.

The primary aim of marriage counselling is to help couples improve their communication skills, increase their understanding of each other’s needs, and work through any issues that may be causing conflict in their relationship.

When couples attend marriage counselling, they typically do so with the intention of trying to save their relationship and work through any difficulties that they may be experiencing. It can also be used post separation to agree their ongoing parenting relationship, for example.

A counsellor may work with the couple to identify the underlying issues that are causing problems in their marriage and develop strategies on how to work through conflict in a constructive way. The goal is to help the couple rebuild trust, perhaps increase intimacy, and develop a stronger, healthier relationship.

Marriage CounsellingWhile the primary goal of marriage counselling is to help couples reconcile, it’s important to note that reconciliation is not always possible (or desirable). In some cases, despite the best efforts of the couple and the counsellor, the relationship may be irreparable, and the couple may ultimately decide to separate or divorce. Take a look at our blog ‘7 steps to achieve the perfect divorce’ for more information on how you can both start the process off on a good footing.

In the event of a divorce or separation, there are 11 methods you can use to reach an agreement on any parenting and/or finances matters. It is likely you will use one of these methods, or even try a few, before reaching an agreement. If you can agree on which methods to use – even if you cannot agree on the actual issues, then that will save you both a lot of time and stress moving forwards.   One of these options is family mediation.


Family mediation is a structured negotiation process. It is the Government’s and the court’s preferred method of dispute resolution when dealing with disputes that may arise as part of your divorce. Indeed, for the courts to start processing a hearing for your case they will want to see that you have at least considered mediation by way of attending a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting – known as a MIAM.

Firstly – family mediation is a collaborative process where both parties work together to reach an agreement that is mutually acceptable. This approach can help to reduce the level of conflict and tension between the parties, which can be particularly beneficial if there are children involved.

Family Mediation Secondly – family mediation can be more cost-effective than going to court, as it is generally less time-consuming and less expensive than a lengthy court battle. With the average financial dispute alone, costing in excess of £20,000 and taking 2-3 hearings over 11 months, family mediation is certainly something you may wish to consider.

Thirdly – family mediation can provide a more flexible and tailored solution to the specific needs and circumstances of the family. The mediator can work with the parties to find mutually beneficial solutions that may not be available through the court process.

Finally – family mediation can help to improve communication between the parties. This can be particularly beneficial in cases where the parties will need to continue to communicate and co-parent after the separation.

However, it’s important to note, that mediation may not be appropriate in all cases, particularly where there is a history of domestic abuse.  In such cases, other options such as legal representation or court may be necessary. See our list of MIAM exemptions here.


Ultimately, the best course of action will depend on your specific circumstances and it’s important to consult with a qualified professional to determine the most appropriate approach to resolving your conflict or dispute.

Mediate UK help clients in 90% of cases reach an agreement. You can find out more by contacting us below:



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