Separate well with family mediation

If you and your partner are separating and are keen to work things out for yourselves with some expert help, family mediation could be the answer.

Family mediators are specially trained to help resolve disputes faced by separating families. Importantly, family mediators are impartial and they will not take sides. And even though some family mediators – like the ones at Mills & Reeve – are family lawyers too, they will not give specific legal advice either. What family mediators do is listen to find out what is important to you and help you to make your own choices and decisions about the best way forward. They will help you to reach practical solutions that work for your family.

Our lawyers

Problems are often best solved when people talk. But sometimes you need a helping hand to get that conversation started, especially when talking face-to-face can seem like the hardest thing to do. Whether we're working with you as family mediators or supporting you through the mediation process as your independent family lawyer, we know that mediation can succeed even in cases that are complex or where agreement seems impossible.

With family mediators  in all our seven offices (and the option for remote mediation), we have the experience to offer you the full range of family mediation services wherever you live in England or Wales – and even if you live overseas.

Some examples from our recent mediation work are outlined below:

  • Following court proceedings over their children, we acted as a family mediator between the parents when the court order started to fall apart, resulting in the parents being able to positively co-parent going forwards.
  • Using lawyer-assisted mediation, we were able to successfully resolve a financial dispute in Jersey.
  • Mediation can be used in many different situations and it doesn’t always have to be about a relationship having broken down. We recently mediated a complex pre-nuptial agreement where the assets were valued at over £50 million.
  • Due to particularly high levels of conflict, this couple did not feel able to be in the same room together. However, our experience meant we had the confidence and skills to resolve their dispute safely and successfully.
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Our family law team has always been committed to, and at the forefront of, finding better ways to resolve disputes. Our lawyers were among the first to train as family mediators.

  • Consultant Suzanne Kingston trains fellow mediators on how to use lawyer-assisted mediation. 
  • Alison Bull is trained to speak with children in the mediation process, is a trained civil commercial mediator, a professional practice consultant and sits on the Family Mediation Council board.
  • Tim Whitney is vice chair of Resolution’s Dispute Resolution committee.

What you need to know

Through a series of meetings, you, your ex and your family mediator will identify and work through the issues that need to be resolved. Your family mediator will help you and your ex to talk with each other and will encourage you both to find a way to reach an agreement that you are both content with. Your mediator is neutral and will not take sides. They will not give you specific legal advice, but they can give you general information about the legal process.

Your mediator may suggest other help, such as financial advice or support for your children. Between meetings, you may wish to meet with your family lawyer for advice. We highly recommend that anyone using family mediation also receives legal advice throughout the process so that you are aware of your legal position.

Once you and your ex have reached an overall agreement, your mediator will prepare a summary, which you can then each take back to your family lawyer. After you have both received legal advice and if you are both still happy with the agreement, your lawyers will convert the summary into a legally binding court order and help you to implement it.

There are many advantages to mediation:

  • You and your ex retain control of both the process and the outcome.
  • The mediator is there to help address any imbalance between you and to help break any impasse in your discussions.
  • It can help to maintain a level of co-operation between you and your ex, unlike the adversarial nature of court. It can improve your communication, which can be particularly important if you have children.
  • Mediation is usually much quicker and cheaper than going to court or negotiating through solicitors.

Family mediation is not suitable for all though. If there are allegations of domestic abuse, it can sometimes be better to go to court. This could be because there is as an urgent need for a judge to be involved or due to the survivor of domestic abuse feeling uncomfortable with the idea of mediation. Each family is different and your family mediator will always consider with you whether they think it is safe to mediate.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Vlogs from our family lawyers

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A discussion between the familylawvlogger, Caitlin Jenkins and her Mills & Reeve colleague, Alison Bull about the various different options for sorting out family law issues whether to do with children or finance. They consider the full range of options and the factors you should bear in mind when choosing the option that suits you and your family.
Child inclusive mediation is mediation in which the mediator speaks to the children direct. But when is this type of mediation useful? And how does it work? In this vlog, the family law vlogger, Caitlin Jenkins, talks to her colleague Alison Bull, a mediator who is experienced in talking to children in mediation, discuss how child inclusive mediation.

Blog: Do I need a family lawyer or a family mediator?

You may be surprised to hear that you don't need to choose between mediation or legal advice. Sorting out a financial agreement and the arrangements for your children may be best achieved if you have a solicitor and a mediator who work together ...


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