SANDRA MARSHALL FAMILY MEDIATION SERVICES

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Family Mediation News

Myths and Misunderstandings about Mediation

Mediation is growing in popularity and my practice has never been busier.  There is more information than ever about mediation in the public domain yet the same questions myths and misunderstandings exist.  Below are some of the most common things I hear:

  • We’ve already been to Relate/couples counselling and that didn’t help.  Anyway, I don’t want to reconcile.
    It’s true that family mediation brings together individuals who are separating but it is not the same as counselling.  It is a process intended to help improve communication so those involved can reach their own agreements about their separation and matters flowing from this.
  • I have to go to mediation to get divorced
    The legal process of getting divorced does not require either party to meet a mediator.  It’s only when someone wishes to make a court application relating to either finances or children issues that there is a requirement to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). 
  • Our mediator will tell us what to do if we can’t agree
    In mediation you make your own decisions.  The mediator will provide you with guidance and legal information in a non-judgmental way enabling you to explore your options and make your own decisions.  The mediator will not give each of you specific legal advice about your situation but should instead be seen as part of a team of professionals who is available to help you at this time.
  • Mediation won’t help me because I don’t understand about finances
    If there are financial issues to resolve, the mediator will work with you to ensure full financial information with supporting documents are provided.  This information is provided on an “open” basis and can be taken back to either participant’s lawyer if help is needed analysing this.  The mediator will help to ensure the disclosure is complete and the information is understood by both.
  • There’s no point going to mediation as the agreements we reach won’t be legally binding
    Mediation provides a safe environment to consider all options.  Discussions concerning agreements are confidential and cannot be referred to in any subsequent court proceedings.  If an accord is reached your mediator can provide a written record of this – usually in a document known as a Memorandum of Understanding.   This Memorandum is taken back to your lawyers who can do what is necessary to turn it into a legally binding court order. 

Mediation and the child’s voice

Feedback from children who have been through a divorce/separation whilst growing up shows there is strong opinion about the right to be heard and children’s desire to have a voice before decisions are made about their futures.  After all these are decisions which will affect their daily lives and which could impact on their physical and emotional health.  As a result of extensive research, radical recommendations around the participation of children in court proceedings have already been made and children could increasingly have their voices heard in the future.

Using a specially trained mediator to meet and listen to your children is one way of gauging their views.  Involving your children in mediation doesn’t mean your children will be given the power of making decisions.  This could cause additional difficulties and feelings of guilt for the children.

Involving children in discussions and asking a neutral person to listen to them, does provide an opportunity for them to express their concerns and views, to share their experiences of their parents’ separation and for these views to be considered sensitively by the parents making the decisions.

Involving children in mediation can also provide an opportunity to explain concepts and share information with children in a safe environment.  This can reduce anxiety for your children, helping them adjust to the new situation.

Children will only be consulted if both parents consent to this.  The meeting between the child(ren) and the mediator is confidential with agreed feedback to the parents only being given with the child(ren)’s consent.

For more information about how you can help your children at this sensitive time you may like to explore the link below which includes downloadable leaflets.

Find out more at the Resolution website.

Regulation of family mediation and what this means for Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) from 1st January 2016

With effect from 1st January 2016 only FMC accredited mediators can carry out a MIAM and if appropriate, sign the relevant court application form. 

Throughout 2015 mediation has been going through changes in respect of organisation and regulation. A new standards framework has been introduced together with an independent standards and regulatory body. 

The process of central registration of individual family mediators with the FMC is under way.  This means that regardless of which organisation a mediator trained with, they must register with the FMC.  The FMC Register is available for the public and professionals via the FMC website.  The Register itself will comprise of mediators who are either already accredited or who are working towards accreditation.

Why the changes? The purpose of registration is to demonstrate that FMC mediators subscribe to the standards established by the profession for itself.  The public can be assured that mediation is carried out to comply with the high standards set.

Once a mediator is accredited they must apply for re-accreditation every three years.

Until accreditation has been obtained there will be restrictions on a mediator’s practice including general prevention from conducting MIAMs.   

As an accredited FMC mediator I am able to carry out Mediation and Information Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) and will do so at a time and place which is suitable for you. 

For further details please get in touch 07500 080361 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

"I would recommend Sandra as both a mediator and lawyer; she is calm, practical and sensible yet sensitive to her client's needs and will go the extra mile to help her clients achieve the best solution possible in their particular circumstances." J-A B, Solicitor and Mediator

Mediation is voluntaryMediation is voluntary

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