What is mediation?

Mediation is a supported process of negotiation in which a mediator will work with you to see if there are practical solutions to the issues you are facing. The mediator's role is not to take sides but to see what would be an acceptable solution to both of you. It is a voluntary and confidential process.

Family mediation can be used to resolve disputes over children and over property and finance matters. It is flexible and holistic and can provide an economical way of dealing with divorce settlements and communication breakdown.

This video offers a useful two-minute introduction.

What is a MIAM? Do I have to attend?

A MIAM is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting and it is your first meeting with a mediator to discuss your situation one-to-one and in confidence. In our experience, it is very important that every client has time with the mediator on their own before they start mediation, so that they can discuss their options and understand what to expect. A MIAM is also an opportunity to weigh up whether mediation is right for you, as no one has to do mediation if they don't want to.

It is now a requirement of the courts, with very few exceptions, that an applicant has to consider mediation no more than 4 months before making a court application. By attending a MIAM, you can ask the mediator to sign a form confirming that mediation isn't proceeding and allowing you to complete a court application.

How does the divorce process work?

You can apply for divorce online or through solicitors. See the attached visual for the steps of the process: The steps of the divorce process

Can I get free mediation?

Legal Aid is available for family mediation, typically for people on very low incomes or on welfare benefits. If you prove eligible, you will get all your mediation meetings for free and the other party will get a free MIAM (initial one-to-one information meeting) and a free first joint meeting.

If you would like to be assessed for Legal Aid, your mediator can do this for you and they will tell you what documentary evidence you will need to bring in to conduct the assessment.

We operate a transparent fee structure for meetings and you can find information about our fees on this page.

How much Child Maintenance should be paid?

There is a formula for calculating Child Maintenance based on how much time your child/children spend with each of you and what the non-resident parent earns. You can check what this would work out at online at https://www.gov.uk/calculate-child-maintenance and use this for a family-based arrangement. Alternatively, you can ask the Child Maintenance Service to conduct an assessment for you.

I can't afford a solicitor and I need to go to court. What do I need to know?

There are some very useful guides call the Advice Now guides which explain a number of issues in family law in plain English for non-lawyers. These guides cover things like divorce and disputes over children. You may also find their short film on going to court without a lawyer helpful. See https://www.advicenow.org.uk/guides/representing-yourself-family-court-film.

Will the mediator give me legal advice?

Mediators can give you legal information but they can't give you individual legal advice because they have to remain impartial and support both parties equally. You're encouraged to seek legal advice throughout mediation and Berkshire Family Mediation has negotiated special fixed legal fees for financial cases with local family solicitors to help keep costs down - see here.

Where is my nearest contact centre?

You can find information about contact centres through the National Association of Child Contact Centres here.

I feel intimidated by my ex. Do I have to mediate?

In mediation, you both need to feel able to negotiate without the risk of caving in under pressure. The mediator will help you to decide if mediation is a safe and sensible option. You will also be told about the alternatives to mediation so that you can choose what is best for you. For more information on feeling safe in mediation click here.

I'm looking for some free financial advice.
How can I track down my old pensions?
I want the children's views to be taken into account. Does mediation allow for this?

In mediation, we treat parents as the decision-makers for children. But we also know that children benefit from having a voice on issues that affect their lives. Berkshire Family Mediation offers child-inclusive mediation as part of our service and we will discuss with you what it entails and whether it is appropriate for your situation. Read about child consultation here.

Help with benefits

There are a number of organisations who can help you find out what benefits you might be entitled to, including the Citizen's Advice Bureau, Turn2Us and Communicare.

Counselling and support

Mediation is about making agreements on practical arrangements but that sometimes there is other stuff going on that needs to be resolved at an emotional level with more therapeutic input. The following organisations may be of help:


Marriage care

Stonewall for same sex relationships


Gamcare for problem gambling

Alcoholics Anonymous

Al-Anon for people affected by someone else's drinking

Narcotics Anonymous

Stamp duty calculator

There is an online calculator here.

Mortgage affordability

There is a simple online tool here.

Do I have to give full disclosure of my financial situation?

Yes. Mediation is conducted within the framework of the law and the courts would expect you to be fully informed in your decision-making. From experience, when trust is low between parties, having clarity and transparency about the financial situation can be extremely helpful in moving things forwards.