The Mediation Process

First and foremost, mediation is confidential. All aspects of mediation are confidential. All participants are obliged to keep confidential everything that transpires during a mediation session. This clear rule pertaining to privacy of process and outcomes is secured by:

the mediation taking place in private, only between the parties involved

the prohibition on publicising any aspect of the mediation

the role of outsiders to the process being determined only by agreement between the participants

The fact that everything remains private makes mediation a very attractive and much less stressful experience than going to court.  Confidentiality encourages participation and facilitates the process of cooperation.


The first stage of the mediation process is for either party, both parties or their respective third parties to make a referral to a family mediation service. The referral will usually include one or both parties contact details and a brief explanation of the issues to be dealt with in mediation.

The Initial Meeting – The Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM)

Since the Family Law change in April 2014, it is a requirement for clients of unresolved family matters to actively consider mediation.  This can be accomplished by attending the preliminary meeting, referred to as the Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

For this meeting, the mediator can meet each party separately or together. The purpose of the MIAM is:

To explain the mediation process

To have some understanding of what the hopes, issues and concerns are for each of the clients

To assess if the client is entitled to legally aided mediation (free mediation, funded by the Legal Aid Agency) if they are on a low income

To assess whether mediation is suitable, if not, what alternative options are there to resolve their issues or disputes

If mediation is deemed suitable and both parties are willing to start the mediation process, they will be asked to sign an Agreement to Mediate document.

Mediation Sessions

Your mediator will begin by working with your identified issues, as well as hopes and concerns about future outcomes. They will encourage helpful dialogue between all parties, whilst remaining impartial and help you to consider the available options based upon what each party has proposed and explore together whether these options are viable. The mediator does not give legal advice but helps the parties to make arrangements and agree on solutions in relation to their specific family matters.

The number of sessions will vary according to the issues and progress that can be made.  Your mediator will give their view on progress and record what has been achieved through a session summary report.

Mediation sessions generally last up to 90 minutes.

Mediation Documents

Once you have reached an overall agreement on all issues, your mediator will draft up a record of areas covered and agreed proposals. This document is called a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is not legally binding.  In property and / or financial cases, your mediator will draft an Open Statement of Finances which is based on the assets, liabilities, income and monthly outgoings of each client.  The clients involved can then take the MoU to a solicitor if they want to formalise the agreement.

A Successful Outcome

At the end of the mediation process when all parties have reached an overall agreement on all issues, each party will know where they stand in relation to future child, financial, property and communication arrangements. Each family member can then move on with their lives in a more constructive manner.

Shuttle Mediation

Many people going through the separation process also go through the process of shuttle mediation.

During shuttle mediation, the two parties in dispute sit in different rooms while the mediator ‘shuttles’ between them while trying to reach an agreement.

This type of mediation may be used in cases where for example, domestic abuse has happened in the relationship. There are cases where too much family conflict means the couple are not meant to be in the same room together or as one of them feels much intimidated by the other, leading to less probability of mediation to be successful.

Shuttle mediation is still a good way to avoid court for people who just cannot or should not mediate in the same room.

The mediator decides on a case to case basis whether there will be a need for this form of mediation.

Consultation with Children as Part of the Mediation Process

Clarity Works seeks to offer children (usually aged ten years and ‘above) and young people the opportunity to be involved and have their voices heard directly in the mediation process in a safe, confidential and supportive environment.

It can be extremely helpful when parents are having to make decisions regarding their children that parents understand their children’s views, feelings, needs and desires.  Involving children in the mediation process may be a good way to do this. Children like to be informed and they appreciate having their views and options heard, although they need to understand that they are not responsible for the overall decision.

Sophie, Weybridge

“Thank you so much. Prior to mediation, me and my ex could barely look at each other and would always find ways of blaming each other. We just could not agree on hardly anything to do with our boys. We were stuck in the past and how we had hurt each other in our marriage. Our mediator at Clarity Works had a way of talking to us and asking questions that would help us to discuss the issues that really mattered to both of us regarding our children. We were able to agree on arrangements for our 2 boys that have worked out best for us as parents and most of all for our boys. We are now civil to one another and realise that it is essential for the well-being for our family.”

Kunle, Woking

“I had no idea about the power of mediation and the difference it would make to me and my children’s lives both now and in the future. We are so relieved that we avoided the courts and were able to resolve our issues in a more amicable and effective way. Thank you.”

Joseph, Farnborough

“I really did not know what to expect with mediation and felt terror just thinking that I would lose out so much - my children, the family property and my financial situation. I was wrong. Mediation helped us both to understand what was possible by looking at all sorts of options to make the most of what we had to offer as parents. Don’t get me wrong, it was tough, but we worked it out together with the assistance of our mediator. I now feel relieved and know that we have made good decisions together for our family’s future.”

Valencia, Chertsey

“One of our daughters has special needs. We were able to discuss and agree in mediation how we will tackle the challenges she faces. Our mediator created an atmosphere that made me feel secure. I felt that she was sensitive to our vulnerabilities. She knew when to be tough with us, when to empathise which helped us to appreciate what challenges we were facing as individuals and as a family. She did not judge us but helped focus our minds on our children and how our separation had impacted on them. We were able to work out what we hoped for and what our concerns were as a family. We have put in place arrangements to restore our family as separated parents.”