After an initial Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) and if there is agreement by both parties to mediate, the process is usually divided into five major stages and Susan will assist you and your partner through each of them.
- Establishing the Arena – Children, Money, Property or all three
- Clarifying the Issues
- Exploring the Issues
- Developing Options
- Securing Agreement
In General Depending on the matters you wish to address, general information about all the options available to your family can be discussed and you will be able to explore any option that especially interests you, such as: how to deal with financial issues, how to deal with children issues, relevant legal principles, the court process, court orders, and how to contact other agencies and specialists who may be able to help. You will also be able to discuss how these issues might practically impact on you and your family. Family mediators are specially trained to focus on the needs of the children in the family, and will help you, as parents, to do that together.
The mediator will ask you important questions about what ideas you have about the future, and about what is worrying you about the present. They may talk a little about what has gone wrong in the past, although the problems of the past are not the main focus of mediation. At the start of the mediation process Susan will, with you, ensure rules are set that everyone is in agreement to follow. These will include speaking and listening to each other with respect, and working with her to make sure that conflict and any strong emotions that emerge during the mediation don’t overwhelm the process.
Most family mediators work in a relatively informal setting, and all qualified family mediators provide clients with a relaxed and secure environment. During sessions, Susan will record key pieces of information or ideas or particular options in a way that allows both of you to see what has been written and to comment on it. Often she will use a flip-chart to do this. You will be encouraged to ask questions and discuss what is being written down. If you don’t understand something that is being said by anyone in the room, or don’t understand something that has been written on the flip-chart, it’s important to say so. It is the mediator’s job to help. Susan will be keeping an eye on how you are feeling, but if you feel uncomfortable or worried about anything, it is absolutely acceptable for you to say so.
If the two of you are able to identify some proposals that you think might work, Susan will record those proposals in a confidential way, so that each of you can, after getting legal advice, turn the proposals into a legally binding agreement.