Below are three case examples of families who chose mediation instead of court proceedings to resolve their separations or disagreements. They provide a useful insight in to how mediation works.

Simply click on the + sign to read the case study of your choice.

Married for 4 years, 2 children.

Ian (32) married Sally (28) with two children Gemma (3) and David (8 Months). The couple have been married four years and separated when Ian left to live with his girlfriend Sarah and her one year old child. Gemma was extremely upset by the failure of the marriage and as she saw it, as a direct result of Ian’s adultery. There had been contact between Ian and the children but Sally had refused to allow the children to come into contact with Ian’s girlfriend.

Ian had no family locally and therefore no plans to take the children other than staying in the former matrimonial home or using local cafes and occasionally the swimming pool (although this was difficult with two children).

Ian had already instructed solicitors who were threatening court proceedings. Sally took legal advice and mediation was suggested. Using the mediation express service an appointment for explanation of mediation was made almost immediately and thereafter a first session of mediation arranged within seven days. Both Ian and Sally aided by the mediator explored a variety of options to enable a regular contact pattern to be formulated and trialled.

At the second session some six weeks later both Ian and Sally where able to discuss the successful parts of the contact arrangements and try and get to grips with the remaining and difficult issues.

A planned introduction of Ian’s girlfriend to the children was managed. By the third session of mediation a measure of certainty in relation to the contact arrangements had been achieved.

Both Ian and Sally were able to confirm to their individual solicitors that court proceedings were unnecessary and that they were able in the main to now sort out any contact issues between themselves having learnt strategies and methods of coping and negotiating whilst in mediation.

Married for 28 years, children had already left home.

Pam (54) and Peter (56) have been married for 28 years. Both had come to the view that despite sessions with Relate over the years the marriage had broken down. The children of the family had now left home and were living independently. Peter and Pam were unclear as to how to proceed to sort out issues in respect of the divorce grounds and more importantly the finance and pensions details. They had heard through a friend about mediation and telephoned the mediation service.

Peter and Pam attended the information session and both agreed that mediation would be appropriate. They did not take legal advice at this time and started mediating where the mediator set a clear agenda with them to enable joint decisions about the way forward. It was essential that financial information was obtained particularly in relation to incomes and pensions. Both decided to take initial legal advice and attended a second session with full financial details. A schedule of assets and income was prepared so that both could be clear as to the current financial position and have some idea as to prospects for the future.

At the third mediation session it was agreed that Pam would divorce Peter on the grounds that were agreed between them during the session, enabling the legal costs to be kept to a minimum. Both were helped to understand their particular needs in terms housing and income both went away to consider options.

At the fourth mediation Pam decided that she wanted to move away and have a clean start closer to the children of the family. Peter arranged to remortgage the property and was able to borrow sufficient additional sums to buy out Pam’s interest in the former matrimonial home. By careful division of the savings held individually and jointly sufficient was available for Pam to purchase a property of her own.

Communications between Peter and Pam had improved as a result of the time spent with the mediator and they were able to sort out issues like the contents of the home between themselves. It was also agreed to share pensions in a manner that enabled both to have reasonable long term security.

The mediator drew up a memorandum of understanding and schedule of assets that enabled a consent order to be made without either Peter or Pam attending court.

Not married, 1 child aged 2, already separated for six months.

John (37) and Fiona (32) approached the mediation service having separated some six months previously after their relationship ended which lasted five years. They were not married and had one child Amy who was 2. The real issue was that Fiona had formed what she saw as a permanent relationship with a new partner who was Australian and wished to locate to Australia taking Amy with her.

John did not agree to the removal as he feared the relationship with the new partner would be short term and the damage to Amy caused by the disruption in contact with John and his extended family. The mediation was a joint mediation and looked at issues such as where Amy would live if Fiona went to Australia to live with her partner. Both John and Fiona worked hard to try and understand the implications for the child of such a removal. Both were advised to take legal advice to understand their individual legal positions.

At the second mediation session they both brought to the session details of flights, costings and with the mediator’s assistance were able to discuss what was in the best interests of the child in terms of contact. It was agreed that the yearly travel costs and distances were shared. It was essential that contact should be carefully defined to enable John to enjoy substantial periods of time with Amy and his extended family and friends within the UK. Compromises were reached in relation to the sharing travel costs. There was also a possibility of John travelling to Australia to see Amy at some time, staying at accommodation provided through Fiona’s extended new family in Australia.

John was able to consent to the removal from the jurisdiction and to support the child leaving this country.

The mediation avoided a contested hearing with the involvement of welfare officers, potential delay, and huge legal costs.