This can help you sort out disagreements when you're separating or divorcing. You both need to go willingly and decisions made aren't legally binding.
There are two types of mediation:
- out-of-court, where you can self-refer or be referred by a solicitor. You can use this service as soon as you have decided your relationship is ending. You can also use it after a separation or divorce if new issues come up. The Ministry of Justice has contact details of local mediators. ADR Now also has general advice about family mediation.
- court-based, where children are involved and the court refers you. Court-based dispute resolution schemes are free. The court will usually ask a Children and Family Reporter to get involved. They work for the Children and Family Court Advisory Service (Cafcass) and are independent of the courts, social services, children's services and health authorities. The Children and Family Reporter will work with you and your partner to come to the best arrangements for the children. If you come to an agreement at this point, the case may not need to go on.
If you think there is any chance of staying together, however small, it may help to talk to a Relate counsellor. Relate is the country's largest provider of relationship support.
If children are involved, it may be worth contacting a local mediator for help.
Related links and information
- The Money Advice Service gives impartial information to help you with your finances if you're divorcing or separating, or thinking about it.
- Advicenow has a divorce 'survival toolkit'.
- The Children and Family Court Advisory Service (CAFCASS) website tells you all about what they do.
- The Legal Advice Centre has a section on the steps involved in getting divorced.