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Legal Aid is provided by the government to cover the cost of family mediation services for families in dispute.

It is means-tested. So you have to provide evidence of your current financial circumstances to prove you’re entitled to receive it. 

If you are eligible, Legal Aid will cover all your individual mediation costs. It will also cover costs of the initial appointment and first mediation meeting for the other person, if they’re not eligible in their own right. 

Eligibility for Legal Aid also enables you to get legal aid for legal costs, up to a cost limit.

Family mediation is much quicker, less stressful and usually cheaper than heading to court.

It helps you make long-term settlements on parenting, money and property.

It enables you to keep control of your destiny, instead of handing it over to a court.

It’s an active process, so the decisions are made by the participants, not by a judge.

Family mediation can help any family in the process of divorcing or separating.

For people who are divorcing or separating discussions can include:

  • How assets will be divided
  • What happens to the family home
  • Where and how often the children will spend time with each parent
  • Their future schooling and social activities, so that you as parents can put in place a full parenting plan now you have separated
  • Support payments to be made
  • And how children will keep in touch with their extended family and grandparents.

With the help of a mediator, the agenda can be anything you both agree to discuss and mediate.

It is common that you will have different issues that you consider to be the priority, but the mediator will make sure that everyone has the opportunity to discuss their concerns, and that a fair and proper amount of time is given to each person’s priorities.

In this way you will be able to work through all the issues that are affecting your life now you have separated and find common and agreed solutions to the problems.

It may seem like an impossible task to reach any agreement with your ex, but in mediation we have a very high level of success and mediators are familiar and trained to help you address each issue in turn.

Family mediators help you to focus on the future, so discussions will involve looking for practical actions to be taken to help you achieve settlement.

We understand it is an emotional time for all concerned, but by helping you focus on the future and working towards agreed outcomes we will see you through what seems like an impossible task.

The mediator won’t dwell on past issues. And they won’t try to allocate blame or guilt or pass judgement.

For grandparents, mediation can help restore contact to grandchildren and improve relationships with your ex in laws so that the children can continue to benefit from those cherished relationships.

To begin family mediation, the first step is to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

This gives you an opportunity to find out what family mediation is about. And it helps you find out if it is suitable for you and your circumstances.

It also lets you consider the issues you will need discuss to achieve divorce or separation before you take part in family mediation. 

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If you and the mediator decide to continue with mediation, you will both organise a further meeting. The mediator will make sure you know what you need to do to achieve a legal separation. The mediator will also help you to gather the information, facilitate the discussions and help you develop options and solutions. 

Mediators cannot give advice or act as a lawyer for either party.  

Mediation is both confidential and “privileged”. 

This means you are free to exchange information and ideas without the constraints of fearing these ideas may be used against you at a later date. 

Because both people are working with the same base of information, it takes far less time to negotiate a resolution that makes sense to you both of them. 

You can contact us to discuss things if this is your situation, but the following information may help in the first instance.

It can be a challenge if your ex doesn’t want to try mediation to reach a settlement when you’re separating. It’s difficult in the heat of a conflict to think about trying to negotiate together to get things sorted. 

It can seem easier to try to trigger a legal battle that is ultimately going to be far more expensive, more stressful and take much, much longer. But mediation can only work when both people agree to attend.  

If your expartner won’t initially agree to mediate you can try asking them to attend an appointment on their own to start with. This can help avoid the tensions of facing each other. Your ex can then find out how it all works and make an informed decision about if it is right for them because they’ll have more information. 

Most people are naturally quite anxious before they start mediation, but the huge majority of those who do go ahead and try it are greatly relieved that they did. They are often also surprised at the way they were able to finally make agreements and decisions on things that had previously felt it would be impossible to sort. 

No. The family mediator is there to enable and guide a discussion.

They will not take sides. Instead, they will help you generate solutions.

  • Family mediation is much quicker and less stressful  than heading straight to court.
  • It is usually cheaper too.
  • It enables you to shape long-term solutions that are in your family’s best interests.
  • Family mediation allows families to keep control of their own destinies. It helps shape settlements over parenting, money and property, instead of handing control over to the courts.

Family mediation does not totally remove the need for solicitors.

The process can work well in various circumstances. And this includes where each person wants to use a solicitor to give relevant advice between mediation sessions.  

When agreement is reached in family mediation a solicitor can look at what you’ve agreed. Then they can put this into a binding legal document called a Consent Order.

The Consent Order will then need to be ratified by a family court. 

If you do not use a solicitor the Court will help finalise your agreements in a Consent Order. 

You may have heard about the MIAM. Before applying to court for a decision on finances or parenting, the law requires most people to attend a MIAM with an accredited mediator. This is short for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.

It is expected that most people experiencing divorce or separation will take responsibility for their post-separation life.

After all, the families are the experts in their own lives. So the family court expects to be the last resort after all other attempts to settle have failed.  

The MIAM gives you an opportunity to find out what mediation is about. You can find out if it is suitable for you and your circumstances. In the MIAM you will look at the issues you have to consider to achieve divorce or separation. And you will be able to assess the situation before taking part in full mediation. 

However, undertaking full family mediation is voluntary.

Our mediators will help you proceed with mediation in the most comfortable way for you and your circumstances. However, if it goes ahead both people do need to agree to attend. But in some cases it is possible to make an arrangement whereby both people use separate rooms during family mediation.


*The law makes a small number of exceptions to this rule, for example where domestic violence has occurred or in cases of bankruptcy. 

Once you have decided to go ahead with family mediation, contact us.

Then we will quickly begin arranging an appointment for you with one of our expert family mediators.  

Family mediators do not express a point of view or make a value judgement. The mediator is neutral during the process. Their expertise and experience allow them to give information and understanding of legal and financial issues. They will guide you to the best legal solution in your case.  

The family mediator will make you aware of things you each need to do to achieve a legal separation. The mediator helps you to gather the information. They facilitate the discussions, and help you develop options and solutions.  

You can think of the mediator as the chair of the meeting. They help guide people through their agenda, ensuring each can express their thoughts and suggestions without interruption.

The mediator is there to help the discussion. They ensure each person has time and space to put their views across. And they keep the discussions productive and safe. 

Family mediators do not express a point of view, or make a value judgement. Their expertise and experience allows them to give information to help you understand the legal and financial issues involved. They guide you to the best legal solution in your case.

Our family mediators draw on their experience of what other people have done in similar circumstances. They help you look at the pros and cons of any particular course of action. 

Decisions made will be noted by the mediator. Then each of you will receive a written summary of these. And this will come with any proposals that have yet to be agreed, and any actions that need to follow. 

It means you don’t need to take notes. Instead you can concentrate on the discussion and create your own solutions for your separated futures.  

There is no strict rule about how many family mediation sessions are needed before a settlement is reached. That’s because each case is very different. The length of the process is also shaped by the nature of the issues being mediated.  

As an example, an ‘All Issues Mediation’ case is one involving sorting out property, finance and parenting arrangements. And this will tend to be more complex than one in which only the finances or parenting need to be mediated.  

Typically, however, couples will find they attend between three and five sessions before the process concludes.  

The background of the family mediator is not relevant. It’s because all our mediators are skilled and knowledgeable in helping you identify the information you need to make decisions.

They do not give advice. That’s because that would affect their impartiality and could be very uncomfortable for participants. 

You are encouraged to seek your own separate advice to ensure you make fully-informed decisions. 

Our expert family mediators use a range of skills to help you plan for the future: 

  • Helping you identify the things you need to discuss
  • Managing the agenda in a timely way
  • Using questions to help people identify priorities and needs
  • Listening to ensure your points are really heard and understood 
  • Summarising understanding 
  • Not taking sides, and encouraging self-determination 
  • Ensuring access to necessary information 
  • Helping people spell out arrangements to check they will work
  • Ensuring neither person dominates discussions, or makes insulting or demeaning comments
  • These skills are designed to help you decide for yourself what is best in all the circumstances. 

NFM’s style of mediation gives you time to express yourself. We understand this is a difficult time. Our mediators will not rush you to solutions, or push you to make a hasty agreement. They focus on ensuring the outcome is truly what both people believe is best in the circumstances.  

Because of our experience and expertise providing mediation you will be surprised at the level of agreement you can achieve. Only in exceptional cases is no agreement reached.

Our fully qualified mediators are trained in all aspects of family law, and we are the leading training providers for family mediators. 

We help families resolve all the practical, legal, emotional and financial issues that arise from separation, helping families make long-lasting arrangements that benefit everyone in the family, especially their children. 

Our mediators are trained to include children in mediation, where it is appropriate to do so. They also have considerable financial know-how to help you resolve money issues.

NFM is the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales. We have over 30 years’ experience in delivering expert professional family mediation.

NFM is local to you: our network works in over
500 locations across England and Wales. 

Not at all. NFM is a registered charity that exists to help families make settlements over things they need to settle after separation. 

No. As a registered charity NFM is completely independent of the family courts. 

NFM is the leading non-profit provider of family mediation but we receive no government funding for our mediation work. Our fees reflect the time and expertise of our experienced professional mediators. Official figures have shown that making settlements using family mediation is up to five times less expensive than doing so by going through the family court. 

If either person decides against mediation, or if mediation breaks down, you or your ex may want make an application to court. Unless there is a valid exemption to mediation, it is a legal requirement that an accredited family mediator signs the appropriate court form/s as evidence that you have considered mediation.

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