Is mediation confidential?

Yes – all discussions with mediators are confidential unless serious concerns are raised about the welfare of children when the mediator has a duty to contact Children’s Services(formerly Social Services)

We have one other exception to confidentiality – the Proceeds of Crime Act. This covers any illegal financial dealings e.g. benefit fraud, tax evasion. If we become aware of these kinds of irregularities, we have to stop mediation.

If you are worried about confidentiality issues, ask the mediator at your initial meeting who will explain more.

We summarise in writing any agreed proposals you make in mediation for you to share with your solicitor and the court if they are involved. It also means that if you do not reach agreement on all the issues and go to court afterwards, then neither of you can refer to discussions in the mediation unless you both agree. This does not apply to factual financial information which can be passed to solicitors and used in court.

Is there a charge for mediation?

CFFM is a not for profit service and registered charity. We are pledged to make mediation available to all regardless of ability to pay. However we must obviously cover our costs to remain financially viable. Our charging policy is as follows:

  • Free initial telephone consultation for all
  • Initial referral Fee of £50 (no charge if eligible for legal Aid) to cover letters, phone calls and initial meetings
  • Free introductory appointment – This will generally last around half an hour and give you information about mediation to help you decide whether this would help in your particular situation.
  • Free for clients funded by the Legal Aid Agency
  • Charged on a sliding scale for others based on simply covering our costs and keeping fees as low as possible.

There are no hidden costs. You pay a fixed fee for the session at the end of each meeting and nothing more. No charge is made for letters or telephone calls. At the end of the mediation process if it involves financial matters there will be a small charge should you choose to have a Memorandum of Understanding drafted, setting out the final proposals.

How long might mediation take?

When we receive the initial referral we will aim to see you for the individual assessment meeting within 2 weeks.

Any further mediation sessions will then be arranged at a timescale to suit both of you and the mediator The number of sessions can vary – if your are sorting out finances and children’s matters(“All Issues Mediation”) then the average is between 3 and 5 meetings.

If you are only discussing children’s matters then 2-3 joint sessions is usually enough to resolve matters. However, the time needed depends on:

  • Individual circumstances
  • The number and complexity of the issues that need resolving
  • How flexible you can be regarding days/times for appointments
  • Most sessions last for 1 to 1.5 hours

Is Mediation safe?

Safety for all is a vital principle of mediation and you will always be given individual time to discuss this and other issues with a mediator. You need to be able to negotiate freely in mediation. Special arrangements may help with some of your concerns to enable mediation to proceed. However, if you have suffered significant domestic violence or feel intimidated by your ex-partner mediation may not be right for you (see Other help section for victims of domestic violence)

How do children have a say in mediation?

  • Children like to be informed and they appreciate having their views and opinions heard but do not usually want to be responsible for the overall decisions. Many children have practical suggestions to make.
  • We offer to see children of parents who are using the mediation service. With parents’ permission we see children for one or possibly two sessions, on the following basis:
  • We assure them that their views will be taken into account as far as possible.
  • We offer confidentiality to the child (but we find that most children wish some of their views to be fed back into the decision-making process);
  • We feed back to parents in a mediation session any issues that children wish to raise. This information can then form part of the picture when parents are deciding how best to make plans for everyone in the future. Children and young people value the opportunity to have a voice in the decision-making process.

How does mediation fit with the legal process?

Mediation can be used to try to avoid bringing a situation to court or during a court case to try to shorten it and resolve the dispute before the court makes its decision.

Do I still need a solicitor if I use mediation?

It is not essential, but advisable. Mediators are experienced in legal matters but must remain impartial at all times and will therefore not give you specific advice about your own legal rights or the best course of action for you. We can give you information about the law and how the legal system works. We shall always inform you when we think you need to consult a solicitor. This may be during mediation to help you consider proposals or more commonly at the end of the mediation to make sure the solution you have reached with your partner is best for you. You may also need a solicitor to draw up an order for the court to make your decisions legally binding.

Who are the mediators?

Our experienced mediators come from a wide range of professional backgrounds(legal, social work, counselling etc).. Some have worked in this field for over 20 years. All have a full understanding of the legal divorce process. children’s needs and finance and property matters. We have a contract with the Legal Aid Agency and meet their Quality Mark standards and operate within the NFM(National Family Mediation) Code of Practice, regulated by the Family Mediation Council.