Family FAQs

Mediation is open to anyone, divorcing couples, separating couples, same sex couples, grandparents, other family members and those who wish to arrange their affairs before they marry or live together.

No. Mediation is not reconciliation, although it can help communication. Mediation is for couples who are separated, or are in the process of separating or divorcing. It offers you the chance to talk about issues arising from the breakdown of your relationship and to plan for the future.

Mediation is very different from Counselling. A Counsellor helps clients to deal with their feelings and emotions. Counselling is about you and your relationship and is sometimes intended to help couples stay together. Although a Mediator is trained to deal sensitively with the heightened emotions that may be involved, mediation is a process aimed at resolving the practical and legal matters arising from a relationship breakdown e.g. the finances, property and children. Mediation is a way of making decisions and settling any disputes after you have decided to separate.

The Mediator(s) may suggest you see a counsellor if:

  • They think it would be a good idea for you to talk to someone about how you are feeling; or
  • You and your partner decide you want to give your relationship another go, and you need help to do this.

It is not essential, but advisable.

Although our mediators are experienced lawyers they must remain impartial at all times and will therefore not give you specific advice about your own legal rights or the best course of action for you. We can give you information about the law and how the legal system works. We shall always inform you when you need to consult a solicitor. This may be during mediation to help you consider proposals or at the end of the mediation to make sure the solution you have reached with your partner is best for you. You may also need a solicitor to draw up an order for the court to make your decisions legally binding.

No. We have mediated for many couples that have come to us directly. Simply phone us and we’ll arrange an appointment. We operate across Cheshire and The Greater Manchester area.

Separation and divorce are among the most stressful experiences that anybody can go through. Couples need to sort out a great many complex and emotionally charged issues at a time when there may be a lot of anger and distress between them. Mediation gives you control of the situation.
Mediation helps bring fairness and dignity to a fraught situation, so that couples can sort out the best decision for themselves and for their families.

Benefits of family mediation:

§ Helps reduce hostility and improves the chance of long-term co-operation

§ Concentrates on resolving shared problems rather than emphasising entrenched and polarised positions through litigation

§ Focuses on the interests of children, helping you to recognise and meet their needs as parents even when you are no longer a couple

§ Provides your children with a voice and a sense of being involved and not excluded

§ Provides an opportunity to assess whether there is any possibility of a co-operative outcome to your dispute

§ Keeps you in control rather than giving that control to lawyers and the court.

§ Improves communication and looks to the future, without dwelling on the past.

§ Reduces the costs and time to sort out problems so that you can both move forward.

§ Finds common ground

No.

The mediator will see you separately on the first occasion and assess whether mediation is a good and safe way forward. This first meeting will be used by the mediator to discover if there are any issues that may make mediation unsuitable. Your safety is the first priority.

If everyone decides that mediation is appropriate, a further joint appointment will be arranged.
It is possible to mediate with clients remaining in separate rooms. This is known as Shuttle Mediation and involves the mediator ‘shuttling’ between the parties and assisting the negotiations between them.

The initial Information and Assessment meeting takes up to an hour.

Further mediation sessions will be arranged at a timescale to suit both of you and the mediator. Each mediation session generally takes up to 2 hours.

When we receive the initial referral we will aim to see you for the Information and Assessment meeting within 2 weeks.

Any further mediation sessions will then be arranged at a timescale to suit both of you and the mediator. Some clients prefer to attend mediation fortnightly and others prefer longer or shorter intervals between sessions.

A case may require between 2-5 sessions, depending on the complexity of the case.

Our charges will be discussed and agreed during this first initial meeting.  All meetings are charged per session. There are no hidden costs. You pay a fixed fee for the session at the end of each meeting and nothing more. No charge is made for letters or telephone calls. If you require a written summary of options discussed or a memorandum of understanding to set out the decisions you have reached there will be no extra charge. The preparation of these documents is included in the cost of each session. The cost is always less than going to court.

No.  Mediation is a voluntary process and if you do not wish to proceed simply tell the mediator at the first meeting.   Even if you choose to mediate you can stop it at any time, as can the mediator if she or he believes that it is no longer helpful for you.

No, after the initial assessment meeting Mediation involves both parties discussing the matters that need to be settled together with the mediator(s).

When mediating on financial matters, we shall ask each of you to provide complete and accurate disclosure of all your financial circumstances, with full supporting documents where necessary. Full FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE by both parties is compulsory when mediating on financial matters.

When mediating in relation to children matters only, financial disclosure is not relevant.

No, either party can choose to keep their address or telephone number confidential.

Mediation is a confidential process.

We will not give information to your legal or other advisers or to any other third parties without obtaining your joint permission. There are two exceptions to this confidentiality:

  • Child Protection or Domestic Violence – The first is where you or any other person (most particularly a child) is at risk of serious harm. In these exceptional circumstances we would normally seek to discuss the action to be taken with each of you before taking any action to contact the appropriate authorities.
  • Money Laundering – The second is where we are required to make disclosure to the appropriate government authorities in accordance with the relevant money laundering regulations.

No, the Mediator can only see or speak to you on your own at the initial assessment interview. Mediators are there to help you both and need to remain impartial.

No. Any documents we draft and provide you with during mediation are to help you should you wish to obtain separate and independent legal and /or other advice before entering into a legally binding agreement.  These documents can be given to your solicitor to incorporate into a court order or a legally binding agreement.

Yes. In situations where we think it would be helpful and you both agree. Liz Mathews is specially trained to allow her to meet your children on their own. We only do this after detailed discussion with you in order to ensure that it is right for you and your children.