What is Family Mediation?
Family Mediation is the courts preferred way of resolving an argument, or issues that occur after a separation, or the breakdown of a relationship; it can help with child contact, the custody of a child, child support maintenance and disputes involving money and property e.g. the family home, debts, bills, pensions, shares and savings.
Mediation is a confidential, voluntary process where the separated couples can negotiate with the help of a family mediator.
How Can Family Mediation Help?
Kent Family Mediation Service can help if you:
- Have recently separated, or separated a long time ago from a partner
- Are already divorced
- Are a Grandparent, step parent or other family member who would like to make contact arrangements to see a child / children after parents have separated
- Have a shared interest in a financial matter, joint assets, debts, a house, pension, savings, or property. Even if you never lived with the other person
- Are not married and you want to talk about a pre-nuptial agreement – ‘prenup’
- Need to attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) because you want to apply to go to court, or take a partner to court.
Over the past 30 years, Kent Family Mediation have helped many family mediation clients in Kent. Our mediators are Legal Aid Agency accredited. They have professional qualifications and experience in relevant disciplines; including law, social work, human relations, therapy, education, or counselling prior to having trained for two years before becoming qualified family mediators.
Is family mediation the same as marriage guidance or relationship counselling?
No, family mediation is totally different from marriage guidance, or relationship counselling. Marriage guidance and relationship counselling help couples to understand and communicate with each other better, in order to mend the relationship, or to make the relationship work. Family mediation is used when the relationship has irretrievably broken down with both parties understanding that the relationship is over and they now wish to discuss and reach agreements on the way forward after their relationship has ended.
Good reasons why you should try family mediation for family, separation and divorce disputes.
Are you on a low income, or can’t afford to pay for mediation? Legal Aid will pay for Family Mediation
Legal Aid is still available if people use family mediation to sort out their family disputes. Kent Family Mediation Service (Kent FMS) offer Legal Aid assessments to clients; who are on low incomes, are not working, or have minimal capital assets and who are assessed as being eligible to claim for Legal Aid. Mediation clients who are eligible will get free family mediation and free legal help from a Family Solicitor. Legal Aid will not have to be paid back, even after a financial settlement has been reached. Find out more about Legal Aid and how it can help to sort out property, financial, or child related disputes with an ex-partner, or another family member.
If you don’t want to claim Legal Aid, you can choose to pay private mediation fees.
What If I Don’t Qualify For Legal Aid, Or If I Don’t Want Legal Aid For Family Mediation?
If you don’t qualify for Legal Aid, you can still attend family mediation as a private fee paying client. Private mediation fees will offer you an affordable solution to your family, legal, property, money, or child related dispute. From 03 November 2014, private mediation clients will get their MIAM meeting and their first mediation session fees refunded, providing the other person involved in the dispute has been assessed as being eligible to claim Legal Aid and we have seen documentary evidence of the information that they have provided (proof of income).
How Does Family Mediation Work?
How many mediation sessions will it take before an agreement is reached?
What if there is domestic violence and I am worried about seeing my ex partner?
Is Family Mediation Confidential?
Is Family Mediation Helpful?
Do I have to mediate?
What Happens In a MIAM
The benefits of mediating with Kent Family Mediation Service:
- Kent Family Mediation is able to help with a number of types of legal family and individual disputes including all issues mediation, property, finances and children cases.
- The process is conducted by an impartial and highly qualified Kent Family Service Mediator.
- The service is a member of the College of Mediators
- Kent Family Mediation have many family mediation centres in Kent.
- Kent Family Mediators are accredited family mediators. They can carry out MIAMS (mediation information and assessment meetings and can sign the appropriate court form pages before going to court over a family matter, or before family court proceedings are issued.
- Kent Family Mediation service is a registered charity and makes no profit from providing family mediation to clients
- 89% of family mediation cases result in some level of agreement, marking the resolution of the family dispute.
- A family mediation agreement may be reached in an average of 2-3 family mediation sessions.
- Family mediation empowers all parties involved in the family, property, financial or child related dispute, enabling them to remain in control of any decisions which may affect their future.
- Family mediation can be a more amicable way of resolving issues and getting an amicable divorce.
- Stress, frustration, resentment, anger and emotions can be greatly reduced through talking during family mediation.
- Family mediation enables clients to stay focused and to see both sides of the disagreement.
- Family mediation can open up important channels of communication and build on this.
- Family mediation brings together opposing sides to achieve one communal goal.
- Family Mediation will take into account the needs of any children of the family and puts children first in all discussions during the sessions.
- Family mediation can take into account the views of any children of the family, which is important in family mediation cases over custody of children
- Family mediation is confidential (except in mediation cases where a risk is identified in relation to child safety).
- Any agreement reached during meetings can be made legally binding without clients having to appear in court.
- Time can be saved if you attend mediation before applying to go to family court as attending a MIAM (mediation information and assessment meeting) is mandatory before attending or applying to go to court.
- If you are fee paying, mediation is cheaper than going via family solicitors, divorce solicitors, the family courts, or through legal channels
- If you are on a low income, or are not working and Kent Family Mediation Service assess you as being eligible to claim legal aid, your family mediation will be free and you will get free legal help from a family solicitor. This won’t have to be paid back at any point, even after a financial settlement is reached!
Find out more about family mediation and the benefits of mediating with Kent Family Mediation Service.If you are not sure about family mediation and you have a family dispute that needs resolving, then before you do anything else, find out what your options are so that you can then make an informed decision about the way forward.
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions Kent Family Mediation Service are being asked. We are constantly updating this page. If you can’t find an answer below to your question, please email us and we will try to help you.
I have been told by my solicitor that I need to attend a MIAM before I can do anything else, what is a MIAM and how can I arrange an appointment for a MIAM?
A MIAM is a mediation information and assessment meeting and is something that you will need to attend before you can start Court proceedings over a family matter. A MIAM meeting is a 45 minute meeting with an accredited family mediator. At this meeting, the family mediator will talk to you and the other person involved in the dispute. The family mediator will explain what family mediation is and how mediation can help you. The aim of the MIAM meeting is to see whether your family case is suitable for mediation, to find out if you are eligible to claim Legal Aid and to help you both to find out about family mediation, to explore the possibility of you both mediating and for you both to find out about all of the other options that are available to resolve your dispute; including going to Court.
If you are both willing to mediate after attending the MIAM, you can then book an appointment to attend joint mediation. If one or neither of you wish to mediate after you have attended the MIAM meeting, then your case will be closed and you will be able to ask the mediator to sign your court form to say you have attended a MIAM. When you have attended your MIAM and you are considering whether to mediate or not, it is worth remembering that if you have attended a MIAM meeting and you have then gone on to try mediation, then you might not be instructed by the Judge to do this again if the matter does go to Court. Make an appointment to attend a MIAM in Kent.
Do I have to attend a MIAM before I go to Court?
Yes you do have to attend a MIAM if you want to apply to go to Court, unless there are exceptional and evidenced circumstances of domestic violence.
I am still living with my husband but we have split up. Can we still attend family mediation?
Yes you can still attend family mediation if you are still living with your husband, because you have separated from him. Please contact us and we will arrange a mediation appointment for you.
My girlfriend has left me. My girlfriend is pregnant, but she says that I might not be the baby’s Dad. Do you do Paternity Testing?
No, we don’t carry out Paternity Testing at Kent Family Mediation. We can contact your ex-girlfriend on your behalf and ask her if she is willing to attend family mediation with you. Family mediation can help you both to discuss making arrangements for her to have a Paternity Test when the baby is born.
I live in Kent and my ex-partner lives in Surrey. I want to mediate with him; will he have to come down to Kent to attend family mediation?
If you made a referral to us at Kent Family Mediation Service, we would contact your ex-partner and see whether he is willing to attend family mediation in Kent with you. We can offer online mediation, which is a solution to this problem.
Can you arrange for an interpreter to help clients who speak very little English or where English isn’t their first spoken language?
Yes Kent Family Mediation Service can arrange for an independent interpreter or translator for clients who speak little English. We can also arrange for sign language assistance for clients who are deaf. Please contact the office to discuss this.
Can I take a family member to my mediation appointment?
No, you can’t take a family member into mediation with you. There are circumstances when a family member might be the person that you want to mediate with over a financial or child related matter and if this is the case, then we can contact them on your behalf to see if they want to mediate with you after you have made your referral for a mediation appointment.
If I am claiming benefits will I get free family mediation?
There are certain benefits which will automatically entitle you to Legal Aid, which will give you free family mediation. after you have made your referral for family mediation we will discuss this with you.
Can you refer yourself to mediation?
Yes, you can refer yourself to mediation by filling in this online form. Kent Family Mediation Service will contact you when you have submitted your referral to mediation. Referrals can also come from your solicitor or another organisation can make the referral to mediation on your behalf.
I live in Kent where is my nearest family mediation centre?
Kent Family Mediation Service has family mediation centres all across Kent. Find your closest mediation centre.
Can I take a solicitor into mediation?
No, you can’t take a solicitor into mediation. The only people that can go to the mediation appointment are the two people that are involved in the family dispute and the family mediator. Under special circumstances a third person may attend a future family mediation session, but this is only if the family mediator feels that it is helpful to mediation and providing that both mediation clients are happy for this to happen.
We have been to Court and my ex-partner has broken the Court order. What happens after someone has breached a Court Order?
If you have been to Court and the Court Order has been broken or the Court Order has been breached, then you will need to go back to Court. You will need to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment meeting (MIAM) before you can reapply to go to Court.
I want to try mediation but I am worried that the other person in my dispute will talk over me and try to control the meeting. I am worried that I won’t be able to put my point across.
It is natural to be worried about attending a mediation meeting with an ex-partner, or some one you have been involved in an argument with, especially if they are more confident about speaking up for themselves than you are, or if you haven’t seen them for a while. However to put you at ease, the Kent Family Mediator will see you both in a safe, neutral environment and will speak to you separately and together before any mediation starts.
It is the Family Mediators job to make sure that you both stick to the facts, give each other time to speak, do not speak over each other and that you are able to put your point across during the mediation appointment. The Family Mediator will guide the discussions to identify what you each want to achieve from mediation with regards to your goals and they will help you both to explore different options with the aim of helping you to reach an agreement that is workable, affordable and fair for both of you. It is also worth remembering that if you reach an agreement in family mediation, then you won’t have the worry or the stress of having to appear in Court. Agreements that are reached in mediation can be made legally binding without you having to go to Court, because the agreement can be made into a Consent Order which will be sent off to Court on your behalf. Once the Consent Order has been endorsed or rubber stamped by a Judge it will be legally binding.
My partner is due to move in with me soon. I own the house but I want to put something in place to protect the house and to avoid a financial dispute over the house for if we ever split up. Is this something that family mediation can help us with?
Yes you may use family mediation to help you and your partner to talk about getting a prenuptial or precohabition agreement, if you are planning on getting married or moving in together. A pre-cohabitation or pre-nuptial agreement can be put in place to safeguard your house, your tenancy or any other assets that each of you may have. Contact us to discuss this further.
What should I expect at a first joint mediation meeting?
What happens at a first joint mediation meeting will vary depending on what the particular issues and circumstances of your case are. Every mediation case is different. The mediator will usually speak to you and the other person alone and then together. The mediator will want to find out what yours and the other persons issues are and what you both want to achieve from the mediation in terms of your goals. Your goals may be different from those of the other person you are mediating with. Once the family mediator has established what the issues are and what you both want to achieve from family mediation, they will work with you both to see whether there is any middle ground between you and to see whether you are both able to reach an agreement. Depending on the exact issues, the mediator may look at different options and will help you to both understand what the options would mean to each of you i.e. how they would affect each of you. You may not reach an agreement with the other person in that first meeting and if this is the case, another mediation appointment will be arranged to enable you both to continue your discussions and negotiations with the mediator.
Where can I get free family mediation Services in Kent?
Kent Family Mediation Service offers free family mediation to clients who have been assessed by the mediation service and who are eligible to claim Legal Aid. If a client is assessed as being eligible to claim Legal Aid they will then be entitled to free family mediation. If you are eligible for Legal Aid you can receive your free family mediation at any Kent Family Mediation location.
Where can I find out the prices for family mediation or how much I will have to pay for family mediation?
If you qualify for Legal Aid you will get free family mediation. Kent Family Mediation Service offers affordable private fees to clients who don’t automatically qualify for Legal Aid and for clients who want to pay privately for their mediation. Please contact the Kent Family Mediation Main Office for more information about private mediation costs.
I want to claim Legal Aid, can I still apply for Legal Aid if I live with a new partner?
Yes, you can make a claim for Legal Aid if you live with a new partner. Information about your new partners income and capital assets will be needed and this information will be added to your Legal Aid assessment calculation. Proof of your new partners income and capital assets will need to be sent in with proof of your own income and capital assets.
Where can I get Free Family Mediation in Kent?
Kent Family Mediation Service offer all mediation clients Legal Aid Assessments after they have made a referral. If a client is assessed by the service as being eligible to claim Legal Aid, then that client will automatically be entitled to free family mediation. This money does not have to be paid back, even if a financial settlement is achieved as a result of the mediation. If one client in a case is assessed as being eligible to claim Legal Aid, then the other client in the same case will automatically be entitled to a free MIAM meeting (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting), and a free first family mediation session, even if they are not eligible for legal Aid, or they have agreed to be a private, fee paying client.
Do Mediators Talk to Children During Family Mediation?
Family Mediators who have received special training in ‘Child Inclusive Mediation’ will talk to children during family mediation, providing that the child is at an age where they are able to communicate with the mediator, the child is willing to talk to the mediator without their parents being present and providing that both the child’s parents and the child have given their written permission for this to happen. Child Inclusive Mediation can be very helpful in cases where both parents wish to take their children’s wishes into account when they make a Parenting Agreement.
Can Mediation be used to sort out a dispute over payment of Student University fees?
Yes, Family Mediation can be used for disputes over the payment of Student University fees. If the child is an adult, or aged 18 or over, then they will need to make the referral, putting themselves as the applicant. The parent that they wish to mediate with, will need to be being listed as the other client in the case. Unfortunately, in this type of case, Legal Aid will not be made available and both clients would need to pay privately.
What happens at Family Court?
What happens at the Family Court depends on whether your family dispute involves children, property, finances and pensions, or your case is a combination of children, property and finances. Below are flow charts showing the different family court procedures for children and financial disputes. Please note that in both instances, before an application can be submitted to the family courts, a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting) will need to have been attended with an accredited Mediator.This applies in all cases except for cases where an exception has made because of domestic violence.
How does the Court decides who gets what in a Divorce?
The Court has a very wide exercise of discretion with regards to who gets what in a Divorce case, however there is also a very complex law that the Court will follow and this is both the Law in England and previous case law. These laws provide a list of what can be taken into account. Also the decisions of previous cases with similar circumstances may be used as general guidance, although each and every case is considered uinique and taken on its own merits. The Court retains a great amount of flexibility to enable it to make whatever order it deems as being fair, given the particular facts of each case.
The Court will always start with an equal 50:50 division of the assets, however it does also use several guiding principles taken from established case law and statute when making a decision, this includes the Section 25 Factors.
What are the Section 25 Factors of fairness that the Courts can consider when dividing assets in a Divorce case?
- The welfare of any children of the family
- The financial responsibilities, obligations and needs that each person has, or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The income and the earning capacity, property, or other financial resources that each person has, or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- The standard of living enjoyed before the marriage broke down
- The age of each person and the length of the marriage
- The contributions that each person has made to the family, or they are likely to make to the welfare of the family in the foreseeable future; including contributions made towards looking after the home, or caring for the family.
- Any mental disability or physical disability of either of the persons
- The value to each of the parties to the marriage, of any benefit which by reason of the dissolution of the marriage that party will lose any chance of acquiring
- The conduct of each of the parties, if the Court considers it would be inequitable to disregard it.
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