GET HELP AGREEING: A mediator is a service where you can get help to make joint decisions on things that are important to you.
Mediators have specialist training in dealing with irretrievable relationships and child upbringing. They do not take sides.
Using mediation is not the same as getting relationship counselling. But it can help ex-partners agree on how take care of their children, such as:
- Where any children under the age of 16 will live.
- Where and when they will spend time with each of the parents.
- What other contact can take place and when (e.g. phone calls).
You can find a local mediator by searching the Family Mediation Council (FMC). You would be able to register for a family mediator who practises near to where you live.
In some cases, you can get legal aid for mediation. In others, the mediator may send your case to a court instead (e.g. situations that involve domestic abuse).
Note: Agreements made through mediation services are not ‘legally’ binding. But, you can get a solicitor to draft a consent order. If a court approves, it would then become legal and binding.
Help from Professional Organisations
There is a government guide to help you make or change child arrangements with the other parent. It may be useful
if you need to decide where the children will live or rearrange the times they can visit you.
Besides using mediation, there are several other options available if you need more help agreeing. You should be able to:
- Get help in other ways from the Citizens Advice (e.g. sorting out debts, children, and the home).
- Find professional help near to where you live through the ‘Sorting out Separation’ organisation for a relationship break-down.
- Locate a legal adviser or solicitor who may suggest other ways to resolve issues out of court (e.g. using family arbitration or collaborative law).
Asking a Court to Decide
It is not uncommon to reach some agreement on child arrangements, but fail to agree on everything else. In this case, you can ask a court to make a decision on
the things you have yet to agree on.
But, before applying to court, you need to show that you attended a meeting to see whether mediation is right for you. Certain cases do not require you to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
Typical examples include separation cases that involve domestic abuse or where the social services are involved.
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
Making a Consent Order | How to make child arrangements ‘legally’ binding when couples separate.
Applying for a Court Order | Asking a court to decide when ex-partners cannot reach an agreement.