Talking to your partner about the practicalities of separation or divorce can be difficult. If you're a parent there are lots of decisions and plans to make for your children and in some cases couples just can't agree a way forward.

Even if you have a good relationship with your partner, conversations about your children and money can result in arguments. In some cases communication can break down completely leaving you unable to come to a resolution. In all of these cases Mediation can help.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is different from Relationship Counselling as most couples choose to see a Mediator once their attempts to reach agreements have failed. Mediators work with a couples involved in family breakdown to make arrangements, either to plan for a separation or divorce, or once a separation or divorce has taken place. 

Mediation can help to settle disputes over contact and living arrangements, child maintenance, property and money, without having to go to court, paving the way to a smoother separation. 

It is a neutral and non-judgemental environment in which to discuss issues privately. 

What can I expect in Mediation?

Unlike Relationship Counselling, Mediation usually requires both you and your partner to attend the sessions. Mediation gives both parties the opportunity to talk in a safe environment and deal with the practicalities that come with separation.  

Sessions last for about an hour and a half. There are usually around four sessions but there may be more or less, depending on the complexity and number of issues under discussion.

At the end of your sessions the Mediator will provide you with a document clearly setting out the proposals you want to go ahead with. This document is to enable you to take legal advice if you wish, before agreeing that the proposals are binding.

Many Relate Centres have a contract with the Legal Aid Agency enabling them to offer publicly funded mediation if clients are eligible. Fees are payable by clients who are not eligible for funding, but Mediation generally costs far less than an often lengthy and costly court battle.

How can Mediation help me?

Mediation can help each of you put forward your point of view and be heard by the other, and help you to express your feelings without arguments. The mediator will explain legal principles, and explore and identify various options with you both. 

Mediation aims to strengthen communication and help you to make your own informed decisions.

Tricia, a former Relate Mediation client talks about how Relate Mediators helped her and ex make positive arrangements for their children.