Complementary Support Services

National Family Mediation members offer a range of other complementary support service to the core work of Family Mediation. Details of each provision can be found below.

More and more children each year are involved in family breakdown.  For some this can be a fairly short transition period from one family setting to another.  For others it may be a more painful and difficult experience and they may have very mixed feelings about what is happening - feelings perhaps of confusion, fear, anger and guilt. It may not be easy, or even possible, for parents and children to talk freely to one another about these things and it might be helpful for children to have the chance to talk to someone outside the family.

Children have the opportunity to talk to a trained and experienced counsellor about the issues raised by parental separation, divorce or dissolution of civil partnerships. This will always be in a confidential setting with each session lasting about 50 minutes, depending on the child's age.

Services aim to provide short-term counseling but we also support a small number of children who require longer term counselling.  The sessions are 'child centred' and younger children may choose to use toys, art materials, books or games to express their feelings.

Service's counsellors are experienced in listening to children and young people and do not take sides. What is said during the sessions is confidential between the children and the worker. The counsellor will talk about the sessions with parents only if the child requests it, or with the child’s consent. The only exception to this rule is if there is a question of somebody being at risk of injury or abuse.

How can Counselling benefit Children and Young People?

Counselling children and young people involves helping the child to develop a positive attitude to life, recognise their strengths and express themselves. It does not involve making decisions for the child, or imposing beliefes or opinions on them. Counselling may be provided to children and young people on their own, or it may be provided to a child as part of a family (family counselling).

For further information, find your nearest service or contact National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636.

National Family Mediation also provides other support services for children. This is very different to mediators offering direct consultation for children as a specific part of the mediation process. Additional support services for children might involve a very separate counseling, therapeutic or listening service offered to children whose parents may or may not be using the mediation service.

In most cases, fairly short term, focused support will be offered.  The child or young person will be offered the opportunity to talk in confidence to an adult outside their family so that their (often unacceptably negative) feelings and thoughts can be heard and acknowledged.

Most support is offered to individual children usually in a mediation service but sometimes elsewhere such as a school.  Most services will not work with a child under 6 years old as it is unusual for these children to have the necessary verbal skills, the ability to be separate from the parent and the ability to focus on the work.  The upper age limit may vary, but is unlikely to be above 25.

Referrals can come from mediators, but direct support is independent from mediation.  Services will therefore take referrals from other appropriate agencies as well as self referrals.

In general, services secure the consent of the parent with whom the child lives before support starts, and will also try and secure the consent of the other parent.  Young people above a certain age and maturity will often be seen without the need for parental knowledge and consent.

An initial mutual assessment meeting usually precedes support work.  This is attended by the child or young person, one or both parents (if consent is needed) and the counselor.  The counselor will describe how the service operates and the offer of confidentiality.  All services have clear codes of practice regarding circumstances when that confidentiality may need to be broken, for example when child protection issues are raised.  

The counselor will also try to make sure as far as possible that the child wants to come and is not attending unwillingly.  It is also important to try and ensure that there are no serious psychiatric difficulties that might be more appropriately helped by another agency.

The actual support sessions will involve the counselor and child or young person meeting alone in a room that is a friendly environment.  As younger children often communicate more easily through play, most rooms will contain materials such as dolls houses, sand trays, games and drawing materials.  Parents are not generally included unless a child actually requests their presence, but some services do also offer support to parents on issues relating to post separation parenting.

Many services now also offer support to children in groups either at the mediation service or in schools.

How will a Support Service benefit a Child or Young Person?

  • Make sense of the changes in their lives
  • Understand that they are going through a process that many people share
  • Express the feelings that are common during a time of crisis like in family breakdown or parental separation
  • Develop a way of coping if they are caught in the middle of their parents conflict
  • Find ways of talking to or communicating with their parents

At the time of separation, divorce or dissolution of civil partnership, many people become angry, depressed and unclear what to do. People often get stuck churning around the grief cycle. If you're a parent, there are often differences with the other parent over the arrangements for the children, property or financial matters. It's easy to feel alone feel alone and friendless when a relationship ends.

How can Counselling benefit you?

Many situations in life leave us feeling powerless and a feeling of no choices. The experience of exploring your thoughts and feelings with another individual can relieve your sense that you are entirely alone with your problems. Greater self knowledge and understanding can enhance your relationship with your self and others and improve your sense of choice and self esteem. Counselling or therapy offers a relationship with the intent of alleviating distress and rekindling hope.

It's good to talk to someone who can listen and provide you with support without taking sides. The Adult Counselling Service has been created to provide skilled help for parents at a time of family crisis. Adult Counselling offers counselling for individuals and couples on a time-limited basis. Normally a maximum of 6 to 8 sessions is provided. There is no waiting list.

Fees/ costs may vary, however, reduced means-assessed rates are usually available for those on low incomes and/or benefits.

For further information, find your nearest service or contact National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636.

In family counselling, 'family' is used in its broadest sense to include parents, children, siblings (adult or child), step family members and extended members. Any or all of these may attend counselling sessions. The counsellor will help you explore relationships within the family and work with you to move on.

Family counselling helps you to understand and cope better with the stresses and strains of family life. Families can be a source of support, encouragement and love but sometimes relationships within families are put under strain and family members feel isolated or overlooked. Family counselling can help when siblings aren’t getting on, or when parents and children are going through a divorce or separation. Forming a new family is a challenge and it is at this point that many parents contact National Family Mediation for some support to help everyone settle.

How can Family Counselling benefit you?

Family counselling benefits the whole family by helping everyone to say how they are feeling. Family counselling can help reduce conflict which means fewer rows and can help everyone cope better with their situation.

For further information, find your nearest service or contact National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636.

Under the collaborative law process, each person appoints their own collaboratively trained lawyer and you and your respective lawyers all meet together to work things out face to face. Both of you will have your lawyer by your side throughout the process and so you will have their support and legal advice as you go.

You and your lawyers sign an agreement that commits you to trying to resolve the issues without going to court and prevents them from representing you in court if the collaborative process breaks down. That means all are absolutely committed to finding the best solutions by agreement, rather than through court proceedings.

Whilst lawyers work together in the mutual best interests of their client, the resolution has got to be beneficial to their particular client. This means that it remains a costly activity and the likely overall cost will be in the region of £20,000 per case settled. In addition, if the collaborative lawyers propose to engage the help of other experts and professionals to assist in this process, it will engage a further cost. A better and more cost-effective place to start might be family mediation, which might be free for you if you are assessed as eligibile for legal aid by one of our professional accredited mediators.

Remember that if the collaborative law process breaks down, the lawyers who have been involved are precluded from further involvement.

How can Collaborative Law benefit you?

The whole process is designed at a pace to suit both clients and can be built around busy work and personal schedules. It is more interactive and avoids the misunderstandings and cost which can sometimes result from correspondence between solicitors or dealing with disputes through the courts.

Sometimes only a couple of meetings are needed, in other cases four or five. Once an agreement is reached, your lawyers will put it into effect, obtaining a court order where needed.

Collaborative Law provides an alternative to the traditional, rigid and often acrimonious court process. It can help to reduce friction between parties and preserve on-going relationships to the benefit of each other and the family as a whole. The parties are encouraged to seek fair and agreed outcomes by discussing the issues that they face with each other whilst having the benefits of legal expertise and support throughout the entire process.

For further information, contact National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636.

Divorce Club connects you with other people going through or having gone through a divorce.  You can hear their stories or advice, or go to organised meetings.

Homlessness Mediation aims to prevent and minimise the impact of family breakdown and youth homelessness by promoting family cohesion, improving communication and repairing fragmented relationships. Local authority housing departments have a duty to provide accommodation to people who are eligible for assistance, legally classed as homeless, in priority need and not intentionally homeless.
Most homeless 16 and 17 year olds are considered to be in priority housing need, however, the local authority has no duty to house them if they are 'intentionally' homeless. Leaving home may result from disputes with parents, a desire to live alone or the risk of violence or abuse.

Many local authorities have introduced mediation schemes, often contracted out to National Family Mediation Services. These schemes are intended to bring the young person together with their family to explore whether it is possible to negotiate a safe and sustainable return home.

How can Homelessness Mediation benefit you?

Our services have found that mediation can be effective in improving communication and restoring relationships, and that with ongoing support for the family from a caseworker some young people can return home.

For further information, find your nearest service or contact National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636.

Community or Neighbourhood Mediation supports families and neighbours in dispute. Community Mediators help people to have difficult conversations about disputes, acknowledge the conflict and provide a space where people can consider and choose solutions to resolve the issue at hand.

Every dispute brings with it a different set of issues, and that is where the flexibility of Community Mediation can be so helpful for a number of different situations.

Our service supports many registered social landlords and can also work with managing agents and those who own their own property. Issues can range from neighbourhood disputes about noise and lifestyle, pets, anti-social behaviour, car parking or garden boundary issues including conflicts within families or between friends.

You can resolve these issues by using independent, impartial and confidential services to help you solve local disagreements.

For further information, find your nearest service or contact National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636.

Special Education Needs (SEN) Mediation is a process in which disputes between parents and schools or education authorities in regards to a child's special educational needs are discussed with the help of a mediator – an impartial professional who will help both parties to consider the situation together and explore various ways of looking at the problem.

The disagreement may have only recently arisen or you may already have made an application to a Special Education Needs Tribunal.  You may also have involved the local Parent Partnership.  We may still be able to help.

How can SEN Mediation benefit you?

  • Mediation encourages everyone involved to consider your child's needs and be part of the planning for their education. Plans made for children are more likely to be successful if everyone takes part in reaching an agreement.
  • It is a productive, future focussed process – carried out with the goal of resolution always in mind
  • It improves communication between disputing parties, breaking down stalemates and allowing discussion to take place where before it would problematic
  • By bringing about a sense of mutual understanding, it is much more likely to foster long term solutions, and make it easier in the future to resolve any other difficulties that may occur.
  • It is confidential – no information is passed to anyone else unless we have serious concerns for someone’s safety or welfare
  • It is a quick process – issues are usually concluded within a day.

For further information, find your nearest service or contact National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636.

Commercial mediation is a process used to resolve disagreements that occur in commercial relationships. This can include disagreements over land, materials, rights, opportunities and contracts (see full list below). Over 90 per cent of commercial disputes are settled prior to a court or arbitration hearing. At least a day will be set aside with all key players physically present and the presence of the mediator – the independent and impartial third party who facilitates the discussions. This provides a structure and discipline to the negotiation, encourages negotiation and enhances the seriousness of the intention to settle.

Which disputes can Commercial Mediation resolve?

Commercial Mediation can help to resolve any disputes that could end up in a Civil Court or Employment Tribunal.

  • Contract Disputes
  • Workplace Disputes
  • Neighbour Disputes
  • Dismissal
  • Compromise Agreements
  • Discrimination
  • Landlord and Tenant
  • Partnership Issues
  • Board of Director Disputes
  • Pay
  • Payments
  • Family Business Issues

How can Commercial Mediation benefit you?

  • The fact that parties can engage without being seen to lose face as mediation is a planned part of the dispute resolution process;
  • The mediator can be entrusted with the "true" position of each party as to where it will settle, hence he can help the parties to bridge the gap between them since he will know how wide the gap truly is as opposed to the parties' public statements; the process is forward-looking and can maintain the business relationship between the parties more effectively than litigation/arbitration, which are both retrospective and antagonistic forms of dispute resolution;
  • What is said in mediation is confidential and without prejudice



NACCC is the supporting membership body for around 350 child contact centres and services located throughout England (including the Channel Isles), Wales and Northern Ireland. It is the largest in Europe. For details of centres in Scotland please visit Relationships Scotland.

Child contact centres and services are neutral places where children of separated families can enjoy contact with their non-resident parents and sometimes other family members, in a comfortable and safe environment. Over four thousand volunteers and staff work in these centres and over seventeen thousand children use them each year.  They are run by a variety of independent organisations that form the membership of NACCC, along with affiliated members such as family lawyers, CAFCASS, CAFCASS CYMRU and the judiciary.

Child contact services are classified into two distinct categories, supported and supervised, so that families can be referred to an appropriate environment and level of support. Special interest groups of NACCC include the Welsh Network and the Northern Ireland Network of child contact centres.

NACCC is a founder member of CEPREP, the European Confederation of Child Contact Centres. 

Our values are:

  • Ensuring safety
  • Child centred within the family
  • Promoting equality, celebrating diversity
  • Independent and impartial
  • Respecting individuals, preserving confidentiality
  • Valuing and supporting voluntary service
  • Sharing skills and expertise to achieve better outcomes for children and their families

NFM is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family

If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can also contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.

All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.

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