How do I find a mediator?
Should be quite easy, shouldn’t it? But in fact the mediation “profession” is a potential minefield, a bit like the world of therapeutic professions. Anyone can call themselves a mediator, even if they have no qualifications or training in mediation, and without any insurance cover if they mess up.
However, most mediators will have been trained by a professional organisation. If you are a client or a lawyer (or anyone else) looking for someone to mediate a family dispute (for example, a property dispute or the arrangements for children) then the best place to start is www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk.
If you do an advanced search on that website you will find mediators who have been properly trained, some will also be accredited by a professional body and all should have insurance. You can select mediators who:
offer legal aid (remember it is easier to get legal aid for mediation than it is for legal advice because, for mediation, there doesn’t have to have been domestic abuse);
are qualified to consult directly with children in mediation;
are near to you; or
who offer mediation information and assessment meetings (otherwise known as MIAMs) – these are the meetings you have to attend before you can start court proceedings. Importantly, for unmarried couples, a MIAM has to come before court proceedings relating to children can be started. Court proceedings can run in tandem with mediation, or can be issued if mediation doesn’t work.
It's important that you, and the other person you are in dispute with, choose the same mediator for the first separate meeting so that you can then go on to meet together if everyone (including the mediator) agrees that mediation is the way forward.
If you already both have lawyers involved, then consider a one day lawyer-assisted mediation. You will need to find a family mediator who is trained in lawyer-assisted mediation (it’s also sometimes called hybrid mediation) or a family mediator who is also a civil and commercial mediator, such as someone accredited by CEDR (as I am). This type of mediation can suit tricky property disputes. Using a mediator who is trained in both family mediation and civil and commercial mediation can be particularly useful for resolving disputes between unmarried couples which, depending on what’s in dispute, can straddle both family and civil law.
Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with the family mediators here at Mills & Reeve. And look out for further blogs from the team during National Mediation Awareness Week (8-11 October 2018) both here and on www.divorce.co.uk explaining what mediation is and the ways in which it could help your family.