What is mediation?
Mediation is a way of resolving divorce disputes with the help of a professional third person – a mediator. Family mediators are trained to help couples to reach agreement on a divorce settlement by providing impartial advice. They can help you to decide on:
- Child maintenance payments
- The division of marital assets, such as property, saving and pensions
- Child living arrangements and contact
- How debts should be shared
What are the benefits of family mediation?
Family mediation is a cheaper, quicker, and less disruptive way to settle a divorce dispute compared to the alternatives – employing a solicitor or going to court. Both legal options involve high costs and can often take months or even years to be resolved. And your desired outcome is by no means guaranteed. Other benefits of mediation include:
- More control over the process – you have the final say
- Improved communication with your ex-partner
- Less conflict with your ex-partner and less stress
How much does family mediation cost?
While mediation fees can seem expensive, it is much cheaper than having the court settle your dispute for you. How much you pay will depend on how your mediation provider charges – by the hour, per session, or a fixed fee package – and how many sessions you need to settle the dispute. But you can generally expect to pay £750 – £1,500 overall, according to National Family Mediation.
How to keep mediation costs down
The more disagreements you have with your ex-partner, the more mediation sessions you will need to resolve them. This means that the best way to keep family mediation costs down is to try to agree on as much as possible before your first session. Bringing your disagreement down to a single issue to focus on, such as the division of property, can reduce how much time you need in mediation and save you money.
Can I get mediation free with legal aid?
You may be able to get legal aid to cover the cost of mediation if you’re on a low income. Legal aid is a means-tested subsidy provided by the government to help divorcing couples pay for mediation. If you qualify, legal aid will cover all your mediation costs, including the first session for your ex-partner, even if they don’t personally qualify. You may be entitled to legal aid to pay for mediation if you are:
- On a low income
- Experiencing a sudden change in finances
Do I need to attend family mediation for a divorce dispute?
You won’t always need to attend family mediation. Many people going through a divorce agree on a settlement without needing outside help. But a judge will want to see that you attempted mediation before a court will hear your case. You can do this by attending a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) – an introductory explanation of what mediation is and how it may help you. Some mediators offer free MIAMs, even when you don’t qualify for legal aid.
While you will usually need to try mediation before taking your case to court, it may not be suitable for you if your marriage has a history of domestic abuse, or if your ex-partner is unwilling to come. By explaining your situation to a mediator, you can take your case to court without a formal MIAM.