How to Choose a Family Mediator

Before you choose a family mediator, it’s imperative to ask the right questions.

Saying that a family mediator doesn’t help couples get back together might initially sound counter intuitive. That’s probably why the role of a family mediator is often misunderstood. In fact, their role is to help couples with the process of separation and how to live apart. Family mediators offer a vital support service during what can be a traumatic time, often fraught with conflict as well as a huge number of practical things to sort out.  

What is Family Mediation?

During the family mediation process, both parties sit down with a trained mediator. This person acts impartially and facilitates discussions around important issues like creating a parenting plan and how to deal with the financial issues such as where will everyone live, how should other assets be shared and maintenance payments. Something that you should be aware of is that anyone can call themselves a family mediator. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re qualified or any good at the role!

How to Choose a Family Mediator

Before you choose a family mediator, it’s imperative to ask the following questions:

  • How long have they been a family mediator?
  • How experienced are they?
  • What training have they done?
  • How many mediations do they do each year?
  • Are they accredited or working towards accreditation by The Family Mediation Council
  • What types of mediation do they specialise in?
  • Will the mediation be carried out in person, online or a mixture of both?
  • Do they offer a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting)?
  • Do they offer a Family Law Information Meeting or Hybrid Mediation (where a lawyer can be present)?
  • What are the costs involved?
  • What are their opening hours and how busy are they? 
  • Do they have a good network of contacts for additional professional support that you can utilise if necessary?

Although this checklist is a great starting point, we’ll be going into each of these questions in more detail during this article so that you’re able to make an informed choice.

Mediation Training and Experience

To get the best out of the mediation process, it’s important that you use someone with the right qualifications and experience so don’t be shy when it comes to asking them about their credentials.

Experienced mediators Claire Colbert and Rachael Oakes from Oxford mediation firm, Family Mediation and Mentoring have an LLB Law Degree meaning that they have a thorough understanding of family law. 

Having both been specialist family lawyers previously for over 20 years, they understand in great detail the specific issues involved in separation, divorce and family disputes. Not to mention that they follow a code of conduct to ensure that high standards are maintained throughout their work as they aim to keep people out of court and their legal fees to a minimum.

It’s also vital to choose someone like Claire or Rachael who mediate regularly rather than using someone who only carries out mediation from time to time. The wealth of experience shared by Claire and Rachael ensures that they handle conflict in an empathetic and constructive way that keeps the needs of everyone, including children – at the heart of the discussion.

Whilst Family Mediation and Mentoring is based in and around Oxford, anyone can access this Oxford family mediation specialist’s high-quality service since most of their mediation with clients is carried out online via Zoom and Teams. Face to face meetings can also be arranged where appropriate of course.

Mediation Accreditation

Most mediators will qualify as a mediator first and then work towards accreditation which can take some time. The Family Mediation Council (FMC) and Resolution deal with the accreditation process for most family mediators. The FMC’s Family Mediation Standards Board oversees the implementation and operation of the national standards. 

As a side note, if the mediator is working towards accreditation, although they will be less experienced, they will be supervised and supported.

Mediators, Claire and Rachael of Family Mediation and Mentoring are fully accredited and their training, learning and development is subject to the national standard.

Type of Family Mediation

Each mediation is unique, and of course, every couple has their own specific needs. A key part of the process for choosing a mediator is to find out what types of mediation they can offer and whether that works for your individual situation.  

This can be daunting though, since there are many different forms of mediation but rest assured that experts like Family Mediation and Mentoring can help you decide which one is right for you.

Claire and Rachael specialise in a range of different issues including divorce and finances, issues involving children as well as child-inclusive mediation, pre and post marital agreements, separation agreements, lawyer-assisted hybrid mediation (an alternative to traditional mediation) and other family disputes. 

Depending on what works best for the parties involved and their preference, mediation could take the form of online meetings or face to face sessions.

Is a MIAM offered?

It’s essential that before the mediation process begins, each person must have their own private and confidential meeting, called a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). The MIAM will need to be with the same mediator you choose to work with moving forward. After those meetings, if everyone wants to proceed, the first joint meeting can be booked.

Even if you don’t think mediation is appropriate and that a court application is necessary, in most circumstances, you will still need to have a MIAM before the court application can be filed because the application must be accompanied by a MIAM certificate which the mediator can provide. 

So, before you choose a mediator, check that they offer a MIAM, since these one to one sessions with each party form an integral component of the mediation process. A MIAM can be booked with Family Mediation and Mentoring by clicking here

Mediation and Legal Advice

A family mediator cannot offer specific legal advice, but they can provide legal information so that the couples involved can make informed decisions. Family Mediation and Mentoring offer a bespoke 1 hour Family Law Information Meeting to provide clients with the opportunity to ask anything they need to know about the separation and divorce process, how it works, what will happen and what their options are. These appointments allow clients to gather all of the information needed, before making any decisions.

In the case of hybrid mediation, an option also offered by the Oxford based specialists, the client’s lawyer can be present during some or all of the mediation process. 

Mediation Costs

How much is family mediation will be one of the most important questions to answer before beginning the family mediation process.

To gain a full understanding of the costs involved ask for a clear breakdown of fees including the initial Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

Additionally, ascertain the cost to each of you for the individual mediation sessions and check that there are no other hidden costs involved. A reputable mediation firm like Oxford specialists, Family Mediation and Mentoring will always strive to be cost effective.

Convenience of Mediation Appointments

Another key factor in choosing a mediator is how quickly they can see you. After all, once you’ve agreed on mediation, you’ll naturally want to get going with it. Family Mediation and Mentoring understand that this is the case so they normally offer a MIAM meeting within 48 hours. 

You’ll also want to check that the mediator offers suitable appointments that will suit the commitments of all the parties involved. Claire and Rachel aim to be as flexible as possible to suit their client’s availability so they offer appointments across the day from 8am-8pm.

Mediator Contacts

A professional, reputable firm like Oxford family mediation specialist, Family Mediation and Mentoring will have a good network of contacts. Should additional professional support (e.g. pension advice, financial advice, mortgage advice, legal advice) be needed they have a network of trusted experts that they can recommend to you.

If you would like to know more about mediation and arbitration then email us at or call us on 0800 206 2258 or book a free call at a time that suits you via our website

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