During the mediation your mediator will give you useful information about how to deal with financial issues, how to deal with children issues, relevant legal principles, the court process, court orders, and how to contact other agencies and specialists who may be able to help. The mediator will ask you important questions about what ideas you have about the future, and about what is worrying you about the present. They may even talk a little about what has gone wrong in the past, although the problems of the past are not the main focus of mediation. The mediator will also set the rules he or she expects everyone to follow. These will include speaking and listening to each other with respect and working with the mediator to make sure that conflict and any strong emotions that emerge during the mediation don’t overwhelm the process.
Our family mediators work in a relatively informal setting provide you with a relaxed and secure environment. During the session, the mediator will record key pieces of information or ideas or particular options in a way that allows both of you to see what has been written and to comment on it. Usually, the mediator will use a flip-chart to do this, but many also use more modern technology. You will be encouraged to ask questions and discuss what is being written down. If you don’t understand something that is being said by anyone in the room or you don’t understand something that has been written on the flip-chart by the mediator, it is very important to say so. It is the mediator’s job to help. Your mediator will be keeping an eye on how you are feeling, but if you start to feel uncomfortable or worried about anything, you should let the mediator know.
If the two of you are able to identify some proposals that you think might work, the mediator will record those proposals in a confidential way, for you to turn into a legally binding agreement after getting legal advice.
Your contribution to the mediation process:
- Explain your family situation.
- Set the mediation agenda. The mediation sessions are tailored around what you want and need to discuss.
- Agree the issues that you need to discuss.
- Decide the priority of the issues. Some issues are more pressing than others and need to be resolved first, e.g., short-term financial support, holidays, contact.
- Set timescales to deal with certain matters e.g., for separation or divorce.
- Clarify the issues: sometimes it is not certain what matters are really in dispute and clarifying these avoids future misunderstanding.
- Consider whether any other specialists might be able to help you.
- Find the common ground.
- Provide/obtain information, e.g., complete a financial questionnaire or have a form explained to you. If you have financial issues to discuss, it is particularly important to make sure everyone has a very clear picture of the family’s financial situation. This involves each of you providing details about any property you own, and your income and expenditure, very much as you have to if you go to court.
- Look at the various options and reality test those options. When there are financial issues you will need to give consideration to what everyone in the family needs, especially the children.
- Arrive at the option that best suits both of you and work out the details of your proposals.