Mediation is voluntary
Before mediation goes ahead, both of you must agree to take part, and either of you could stop the mediation process at any time. People who want to make an application to the Family Court are usually required to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting, or ‘MIAM’, but mediation itself is always voluntary, and no-one can be required to take part in mediation if it’s not right for them.
Mediators are impartial
The mediator does not take sides, and is there for both of you. Mediators don’t give advice, although they may give information about the law – such as what orders a court can and cannot make – and they may offer guidance about what things you might need to consider.
Mediation is confidential
The information that clients share with the mediator is kept confidential, with some very limited exceptions*. Proposals put forward during mediation cannot be referred to in court proceedings. If you try mediation but it doesn’t work for you, the court will never be told why mediation wasn’t successful.
*The only exception is if we are made aware of harm or risk of harm to anyone (especially a child) or if we are given previously undisclosed information about a criminal offence: there may be a duty to disclose this to the relevant authorities.
In mediation, people make their own decisions
The mediator doesn’t make any decisions: you yourselves work out what proposals you both agree to take forward. Your proposals will only become legally binding if they are made into a court order (a ‘consent order’) or if a legally binding agreement is drawn up.