Published on January 10, 2023

What I do

The questions, what is a family mediator, and what does a family mediator do are common questions for those just about to embark on the family mediation process. Jo O’Sullivan explains all:

I can help you sort out all issues to do with breaking up (although some mediators will only do children OR finances. Those that help with both children and finances are called ‘all issues’ mediators. 

I help you resolve all financial aspects of your separation.

I help you sort out the caring arrangements for the children, creating a parenting plan together is the ideal. finances and how to care for your children.  I will help you see that any plan is an organic one and will change according to your child(ren)’s and your own needs. 

divorce consultant talking to a client

I can work with you online as well as in person. 

I will openly discuss for domestic abuse with you and we will decide if mediation is suitable. 

I give you legal information. Mediation takes place in the ‘shadow of the law’. So, I can give you an idea of the realm of what a court might order (this falls short of legal advice) so you won’t agree something that is legally naive.

Make sure you consider everything you need to consider. 

I will help you create a flexible agenda to keep you on track with your discussions. 

I will keep you ‘safe’ in the mediation space (online or in person).

I can help improve the communications between you. 

I will help you work out what other expertise you need. I can work with those experts or simply refer you to them e.g., tax advice, valuers, pension on divorce expert (PODE) or a child inclusive mediator. 

As our work is not legally binding so possible to ‘fine tune’ and try things out e.g., arrangements for the children.

I can convert your proposals into legally binding documentation (or a consent order). 

I give lots of legal information.

I provide one of the cheapest ways to create solutions that suit your family.

If I am experienced and accredited, I have a high success rate (upwards of 70%). 

I can let you know if mediation is not working for you and recommend how to move forward and avoid court. 

I must report you if Proceeds of Crime Act applies.

I must report you if I have concerns about the safety of your children or either of you (although I will encourage you to report yourself if appropriate). 

What I don’t do

I can’t compel you to come to or continue with mediation. 

Usually, our work together is not legally binding. 

I will not (usually) keep secrets or confidences and will I circulate any emails you send.

I will not give legal advice. 

I will not tell you what to do.  

I will not take sides because I am neutral and I want to help you both. 

What qualifications, memberships and experience to look for

All family mediators must have attended and passed a recognised and approved family foundation mediation course.  Only the National Family Mediation Council can approve a course provider. Those who currently provide such approved courses can be found at:

https://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/approved-foundation-training-courses/

After a mediator has enough experience, they can apply to be an accredited mediator.  It’s best to use an accredited family mediator as they have reached a certain standard of experience and expertise to be accredited. 

https://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator/

We also have a number of mediators on the Hub and you can find them here.

Top tips for getting the most out of my profession

– read everything that is sent to you, more than once. 

– Do all the homework set and meet the deadlines agreed; if you don’t think you can then let everyone know in good time.

–  Ask questions. Ask lots of questions.  If you don’t understand something then ask; it’s likely that clarity is needed for everyone.  Don’t worry about asking the same question again – mediators are used to it and welcome these questions.

– Attend all sessions as agreed. If you can’t then give everyone lots of notice to re-arrange. 

– Work with family consultant, therapists and counsellors to help your emotional well-being. It’s a very difficult time so anything you do to improve your mental health the more able you will be to deal with mediation. 

–  Try to explain how you feel about things, what’s worrying you and ask the mediator to help address your concerns. 

–  Don’t keep secrets about your current life or your future intentions.  All information is crucial and can be dealt with appropriately.

–  Don’t’ try and ‘second guess’ an outcome.  Be willing to consider all options and ideas. That way they can all be discussed and checked to see if they will suit you both (and your children). 

–  Keep going! It’s hard work but worth it when you have a solution that works for your family. 

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Choosing The Right Professional Support

Choosing the right professional support is one of the critical decisions you can make during a divorce and separation. Get it right, and you will be grateful for the rest of your life. Get it wrong, and the results can be catastrophic. It's that important.

What to look for when appointing professional support?

Ideally you are looking for professionals who are going to support you to find amicable solutions so that you can avoid the stress, costs and delays in court. There are many different experts who can help you, you may find you need more than one. Doing your homework is key and we encourage you to take your time. You will find a lot of support on this hub to help you in choosing the right professional support including: descriptions of all the professionals you can choose from, what they do, what they don't do, why you might choose them, who else they work with, tips on how to choose the right one for you and a directory where you will find many to choose from.

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