Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Your individual Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (known as a MIAM) will provide an ideal opportunity for you to ask the expert mediator any questions. Here are some answers to the ones we are asked most frequently.

How long does mediation take?

How long does mediation take?

This will depend on you and the complexity of the case. Each meeting lasts between 1 and 2 hours. On average two or three meetings will be needed but some very narrow issues can be sorted out in a single session. Mediations, even when they require three meetings, are usually completed within three to four months, making it much quicker than the court process which takes between six and twelve months. At your individual Information and Assessment Meeting, the mediator will be able to give you a clearer idea of the number of meetings you will need and the overall timescale.

Mediation is very easy and helpful. It's also much quicker and cheaper than solicitors

Can mediation lead to legally binding agreements?

Can mediation lead to legally binding agreements?

Yes, all mediated settlements can be turned into legally binding agreements. Our mediators have a wealth of legal and financial knowledge to help you explore the different options within a legal framework. When a way forward has been found in mediation, the mediator will put the joint proposals in writing. This gives you the chance to check everything out with a legal adviser and you can then ratify the arrangements either as a contractual agreement between you or you can ask the court to approve your settlement. We can explain this in more detail and answer any further questions at your individual Information and Assessment Meeting.

The mediation process was friendly but professional and supportive. Circumstances concerning law and legal matters were explained fully and reassuringly

When should I start mediating?

When should I start mediating?

There is no hard and fast rule and you will be the best judge of when it’s right for you. Many people come to mediation soon after separating or once divorce proceedings have started as they feel motivated to sort things out at an early stage. However, others find their way to us after having spent months and sometimes years in negotiations which have reached an impasse. We are happy to work with you whatever stage you are at. It is never too late to talk to us, even if you have started court proceedings. And if you have already tried mediation, it may well work better a second time as not all mediators work in the same way and how you both feel about the situation may well have changed over the intervening months. Please call us to arrange an initial meeting so we can help you decide if mediation is right for you now.

I think mediation is a very useful tool to take a step back and look properly at what you’re about to do, in an informal relaxed atmosphere, that is less stressful than a solicitor

Do we have to sit in the same room?

Do we have to sit in the same room?

Mediation is essentially about communication rather than confrontation. Our mediators are very skilled at facilitating the meetings so that you both have a chance not just to put across your thoughts and ideas but also to give you the opportunity to hear what the other person is saying and see the whole picture. At your initial individual meeting, we will discuss the different ways that we can ensure you feel safe and comfortable. In situations where one person finds it too intimidating to be in the same virtual room, we can discuss using a model of mediation where you can be in separate rooms throughout the process.

Mediation provides an aid to communication so there is then a feeling of fairness

What support is available for people with disabilities or other disadvantages to participate in mediation?

What support is available for people with disabilities or other disadvantages to participate in mediation?

We make every effort to ensure that our services are available to people who have disabilities or sensory impairments or who do not speak English fluently. We can organise interpreting support for those who need it. Clients with difficulties arising from other health issues can also be supported, and this can be discussed fully at the Information and Assessment Meeting.

Can the mediation process deal with complex finances?

Can the mediation process deal with complex finances?

Mediation is a flexible and robust way to sort out even the most complex finances. We have the experience to tailor the mediation model to suit the particular circumstances of your financial situation.

Here are a few examples of where additional support might be needed so you can still achieve a fair and workable solution:

  • multiple properties
  • large investments
  • above average capital and/or income
  • significant pension funds
  • substantial business interests
  • trust funds
  • foreign assets
  • complicated tax implications

Complex finances within the adversarial process of litigation can lead to huge legal costs running into tens of thousands of pounds for each of you. Here at Mediation First we have over the years developed innovative models of financial dispute resolution to deal with even the most complex or substantial financial circumstances. We were for example one of the first services to invite solicitors to accompany their clients to the mediation sessions in cases where there were complicated legal issues that required a lawyer’s input as the mediation progressed. We also have experience with involving accountants, financial planners and actuaries as part of the the mediation process to provide information and advice on complex financial matters such as pensions, investing assets to ensure an adequate income in the future and how to minimize the tax consequences when assets are divided.

As long as there is a willingness on your part to work collaboratively to find a fair outcome, we can provide the appropriate mediation framework for you to achieve this. The next step is for you to arrange a Mediation and Assessment Meeting with one of our experienced mediators who can discuss with you further the different way in which we can assist in even the most complex financial disputes.

Can mediation deal with difficult dynamics?

Can mediation deal with difficult dynamics?

Some people think that mediation is only for separated couples who continue to have an easy and co-operative relationship. However the reality is that few couples who come to mediation have that sort of relationship.

More often than not we mediate with people who - before they started mediation - were worried that their ex-partner would do one or more of the following:

  • dominate and steamroller the discussions
  • be allowed to pressurise you into an arrangement that may not be fair for you
  • refuse to let you get a word in edgeways
  • try to confuse you because they have more financial knowledge than you
  • charm the mediator
  • use the mediation to continue to intimidate you

But their actual experience of mediation has in fact been very different. Of course there are some situations where mediation won’t be the appropriate way forward but there are many situations where mediation is very successful even when the relationship is complicated and fraught. All our mediators are very skilled at managing these difficult dynamics and have lots of ways to ensure that you feel safe and are able to engage fully and fairly in the process.

Your initial Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting is just between you and the expert mediator. This gives you a chance to discuss your concerns frankly and we will explain how we might be able to address them so that you feel confident in giving a mediation a try.

How can I check that my financial settlement is legally fair?

How can I check that my financial settlement is legally fair?

Mediation isn’t just about finding a workable solution. You’ll also want to make sure it’s legally fair and binding. Our mediators make a habit of giving you lots of information so you can get a really good understanding of what the law considers relevant and important in ensuring a fair outcome.

If you have a solicitor, you can check out your proposed settlement with them before it’s made legally binding to make sure you are getting your fair entitlement. If you haven’t got a legal adviser or you are worried that going back to your respective advisers will lock you and your partner back into polarised positions, Mediation First has developed a quick and inexpensive alternative. We have teamed up with a leading Barristers Chambers so that a specialist family law barrister can look at your overall financial situation and your proposals and provide a written advice of what a judge would consider fair. It’s a great way to be confident that your mediated settlement will obtain the seal of approval from the court.

We can also design the mediation to fit the needs of your case. For example, you may feel nervous about negotiating directly with your ex-partner without the support of your legal adviser. Our pioneering solicitor-supported model of mediation allows you to come to the mediation with your solicitors so you have all the legal advice you need on tap during the negotiations.