Following your initial enquiry, the mediator will have a short 30 minute meeting with each of you individually. This initial consultation is confidential and is designed to assess whether mediation is the right way forward for you and, if so, to identify the issues that you each wish to consider in mediation.
The mediator will outline how mediation works and will discuss with you all your available options, including traditional legal advice, solicitor negotiation, the collaborative process and arbitration.
This meeting is distinct from a 'MIAM' (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) which is a requirement in circumstances where there is an immediate intention to issue court proceedings. A MIAM needs to be conducted by an accredited mediator, a list of whom can be found in the 'Find a Mediator' section on the Family Mediation Council's website.
If you both agree to mediate, all subsequent mediation sessions and communications will be with you both and will be dealt with by the mediator in an impartial and even-handed way.
You will probably attend a number of sessions together with the mediator who can help you with the financial disclosure process and to address practical and financial issues as well as the arrangements for any children involved.
You can consult your solicitor at any time during the mediation process.
The mediator will prepare an Open Financial Statement recording any financial disclosure that is made in the mediation process.
Once you are both satisfied with the decisions you have reached on the way forward, the mediator will prepare a detailed Memorandum of Understanding reflecting your proposals. You will be encouraged to take legal advice on the proposals set out in this document. It will enable your solicitors to draft Minutes of Agreement and, if appropriate, obtain a Consent Order without duplicating costs.
In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for the mediator to prepare Interim Proposals which you can discuss with your respective advisors before continuing with the mediation process.