What is Family Mediation?
Family mediation is a voluntary process in which a trained, impartial mediator helps family members to communicate more effectively and to make their own arrangements for the future, particularly for children. Mediation can benefit families by reducing conflict, improving family life and helping to avoid long, painful and expensive legal battles. Mediators do not take sides, make judgements or give guidance, but rather support people to make their own decisions about the future.
Family mediation supports parents, children and the wider family through family change, particularly where this has occurred as a result of separation, divorce or family restructuring.
Who is it for?
Family mediation is for all sorts of families: married or unmarried, separated or never having lived together, younger or older. Parents, grandparents, stepparents, children and young people can all participate in family mediation.
When is it helpful?
Family mediation can be helpful at any time if communication becomes difficult or breaks down. This may be:
- during, or sometime after a relationship breakdown
- as a result of families re-forming, such as stepfamilies
- when parents, grandparents, stepparents, children or young people identify there are difficulties with communication or there are practical arrangements that need to be resolved.
How does it work?
Each family member is offered an individual, confidential meeting where information is shared and options are discussed. If mediation is appropriate a joint meeting is arranged with the mediator where family members have the opportunity to talk about their concerns, explore options and agree an acceptable way forward. Families may attend for several mediation appointments.
What about the children?
The focus of family mediation is on putting children’s and young people’s needs first. Families can do this best by listening to them, trying to understand them and taking their views and feelings into account. If appropriate, the mediator can meet individually with children and young people to hear their views on issues which affect them. The mediator agrees with the child or young person what they would like to have fed back in to the mediation process for the parents to hear. This service is called ‘Direct Consultation with Children’.
Is it confidential?
Yes. Parents can talk freely and frankly in mediation. What occurs during family mediation cannot be used in civil proceedings unless both parties want it to be or if there are issues regarding children’s safety or criminal activities.
Mediators are bound by a duty of confidentially, unless circumstances suggest that the issues being discussed may pose a risk to clients or the wider community. Such issues include domestic abuse, child protection, money laundering and terrorism. In all circumstances, care is taken to protect confidentiality and no disclosure will be made without discussing the issues first, unless there is an urgent risk of harm.
Who are the mediators?
Family mediators are trained professionals (SCQF level 9, over 3.5 years) who undertake mentored co-mediation practice and are assessed in order to achieve Accredited/Registered status with Relationships Scotland. All our mediators work to professional standards and go through an annual registration process to demonstrate that they have met the required standards of practice, supervision and Continuing Professional Development.
What about the courts?
In Scotland the courts will not become involved in the decisions families make following a separation unless they are asked. Mediation can help you to make decisions about children without going to court. However, if you do go to court even at that stage the sheriff may refer you to your local mediation service.
Is there a waiting list?
Waiting times vary. Please contact us for information on current waiting times.
How much will it cost?
The service is free, although individual donations are welcomed.
Please click here to download our leaflet on Family Mediation.
Please click on the links below to watch two short films on Family Mediation
Family Mediation Explained
Family Mediation in Action
Please contact us