Family mediation questions to ask
The family mediation process is a method of resolving disputes without going to court. Mediation is carried out by an impartial, third-party and fully trained mediator and can be done both with or without the assistance or guidance of a solicitor.
This blog will help you to fully prepare for mediation by giving you questions to ask yourself and others involved in the mediation process to ensure you have everything you need for successful mediation.
Questions to ask when deciding on a family mediator
Making sure you find a mediator that suits your situation and your budget so make your decision carefully. Here are some questions to ask to help you make your decision.
Do you accept clients who are eligible for legal aid? You need to ensure your mediator will work with clients eligible for legal aid. Ask your mediator to assess you for legal aid. If you are eligible for legal, mediation will be free for you.
How much is mediation likely to cost? This question is very much “how long is a piece of string?” but once the mediator knows the complexity of your situation and how different the demands of the two parties are, they will be able to give a rough estimate of both cost and time.
Do you have experience mediating a similar situation? You want your mediator to be fully qualified and have plenty of experience in the field so don’t be afraid to ask them!
Will you draft the divorce agreement or final mediation agreement and/or any court papers? You need to know what you will leave the mediation process with, whether you need to engage a third party to draw up the documents, creating additional costs, or if that is something your mediator can do for you.
Will I need to be in the same room as my ex partner or can we be in separate rooms during the mediation process? This is your decision, the mediation process is more straightforward if everyone is in the same room but this might not be appropriate in some circumstances. You are entitled to discuss with your mediator in a separate room to your spouse if you wish to do so. You may feel more comfortable with online mediation, whether on the same screen or not, as your ex-partner, this is something we also offer here at WY Mediation.
Questions to ask yourself before you begin the mediation process
What do you think is a fair resolution to this situation and where would you be willing to make compromises? Mediation is (or at least, should be) a cooperative process between the two parties, you need to know what outcomes you would like and which are a priority, but also where you would be willing to compromise and by how much. This may be with regards to finances, the amount of time each of you spend with your children and/or other key issues so think carefully about all your options.
What do you think the other person would like to achieve from mediation? Think about their objectives and which might be a priority. Doing this might also help you understand where you might be able to compromise and think of other possible solutions to your situation.
Is the solution you are looking to achieve realistic? You do not want to make unreasonable demands as the mediation process simply won’t work. Be realistic and as adaptable as possible.
If you have them, what are the wants and needs of your children and how is this factored in to your ideal solution? You want to ensure you have thought about your children’s wants and needs when it comes to a solution and what you and the other person can do to make co parenting easier for both you and the children. An older child (aged 10 and above) may be able to discuss their own ideas with the mediator if they are unable to convey their opinions to you, is this something you’d like to arrange with your mediator?
What could you both do to improve communication between you both? You need to be realistic and goals regarding communication should be achievable. It may be that you need to speak to each other with more respect or to try and be more direct with what you would like. Remember mediation is not about conflict resolution, it is a process of helping to make key decisions around finances, children and other elements after a relationship breakdown.
How can you demonstrate a level of trust between you? You may have let the other party down in the past, or vice versa, impacting the trust that exists between you. What could you do to show the other person that you are trustworthy and what could they do to prove themselves to you.
Are there views of third parties to take into account? When it comes to children then the decisions may impact the grandparents and other family members, with divorce and relationship breakdown there may be the involvement of new partners to take into account.
Questions to ask the other party before you begin mediation
Are you willing to attend mediation to resolve matters? Are you willing to attend mediation to resolve matters? You may want to reach an agreement outside of court but the other party may have other ideas. You need to know whether they are willing to negotiate matters through a mediation session or if they would rather go to family court. The mediator can help with this.
What do you think is a fair resolution to this situation and where are you be willing to make compromises? You may also want to ask your ex spouse the same question that you asked yourself to know their thoughts and understand where they are coming from. Communication can break down between parties and people often assume what the other is thinking without actually asking. So you can ask this yourself or wait for it to be brought up during the mediation process.
Questions to ask during family mediation
At the actual mediation meeting you will have chance to hear from the other party on what they would like the outcome of mediation to be and try to come to an agreement between yourselves rather than the agreement being decided by a court.
If we are unable to reach a joint decision through mediation, how much would it cost to go to court? We all want mediation to work and for many clients, mediation is sufficient to help them reach decisions after a separation. Other people will want the decision taken out of the other parties hands completely which means going to a court of family law for the case to be heard and a decision made by a judge. Going to court can be a much more expensive process so it is good to get an idea of what this figure might be should mediation not work out.
Can we pause for a moment? Mediation may be less stressful than going through family court but it doesn’t mean it isn’t still an emotional and emotionally draining process with lots of possible outcomes to consider. The mediators are there to look after both parties best interests and, with no timescale to work by, mediation can take as long as you need. In short, don’t ever be afraid to ask to take a break.
Am I able to speak to the mediator alone? If you need to, there is no reason why you can’t ask to speak to the mediator in private.
What can we do if our circumstances change in the future? Your decisions may be perfectly relatable now but things may change in the future and you should be prepared. You can change your mind with matters decided upon during mediation as long as it hasn’t been made legally binding with a consent order, after which it may be more tricky to navigate.
How do we make these decisions legally binding? Family mediation in itself is not legally binding, the process is there to help you make decisions about your family without going to court. Once an agreement has been reached family mediators will write up a document known as “an agreement reached in mediation”. This can then be passed to form a parenting plan or to the family law court which, once approved, is legally binding as a consent order.
What can Woollcombe Yonge offer for family mediation?
At Woollcombe Yonge we know just how difficult and emotionally challenging it is to go through a relationship breakdown, especially when there are children and assets involved. So, whatever your circumstances we offer impartial but supportive mediation services and have the right person for the job.
Our mediator Will Giles is head of Family Law and has almost 30 years’ experience as a solicitor. Will has a wealth of experience in divorce cases, particularly military divorces and is strong in helping to resolve finance cases.
You can contact Will at WY Mediation directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01752 827912.
"As a family we found the service provided to us was delivered with ’empathy’ and was in fact ‘outstanding’, we would most certainly recommend Woollcombe Yonge to friends.”