Talking to your partner about the practicalities of separation or divorce can be difficult. Sometimes it's just too hard to agree a way forward without some help.

If you're a parent there are also lots of decisions and plans to make for your children. 

Even if you have a good relationship with your partner, conversations about things as big and complicated as 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 happens when an expert, called a mediator, works with people whose relationship has broken down to help make necessary arrangements for a separation or divorce.

Mediation can help to settle disputes without having to go to court -- paving the way to a smoother separation. It can cover issues like property, finances, and when children are involved, child maintenance, contact and living arrangements.

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

What to expect

Unlike relationship counselling, mediation usually requires both you and your partner to attend the sessions. Mediation gives everyone 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 it help?

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

Tricia, a former client talks about how our mediators helped her and her ex make positive arrangements for their children.

Start the conversation

Mediation is available at the following Local Centres.

To start the conversation about mediation, get in touch with your Local Centre.