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Can Mediation Resolve Child Custody Issues?

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Child custody mediation is an impartial, non-confrontational process which supports separated parents in working together to decide on future arrangements.

Mediation services for child access put the interests of the child at the forefront of all discussions and have proved highly effective in empowering parents to resolve differences without the acrimony that can result from a court hearing.

The mediation process not only settles immediate disputes but often proves effective in re-establishing a positive basis of communication between the separating couple, enabling them to work together in the long term for the benefit of their children.

How do I set up mediation for child custody?

The first step is to arrange a meeting with a family mediator, an expert in family law who is specially trained to help separating couples resolve disputes.

Should you go ahead with child custody mediation, it is the mediator who will guide you through the process, using their experience and expertise to create a safe, impartial and confidential environment where you and your former partner can speak openly.

The process will start with an initial session called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) – you and your former partner will each meet separately with the mediator. It will be an opportunity for you to hear more about how mediation services for child access work and to ask any questions you have.

While child custody mediation is voluntary, you are legally required to consider it and to attend at least one MIAM (there are exceptions, such as where one party has been a victim of domestic violence or where the process could put a child at risk) before any application is made to the Court to deal with arrangements for your children.

How much does child custody mediation cost?

Mediation is usually much cheaper than formal legal proceedings. At Wilson Browne, the fee for the MIAM meeting is £200 (including VAT) per person. The family mediator will tell you about the fee for future sessions at the MIAM – each parent will pay the relevant hourly rate.

Does mediation work for child custody?

Mediation services for child access have helped many parents reach agreement. The process has a number of important advantages over taking cases to court:

  • Lack of confrontation: court hearings are adversarial in nature and this can deepen divisions between parents. This ill feeling can make it harder for them to co-operate in the future.
  • Mediation provides a calm and constructive environment for the parties to resolve their differences.
  • Self-determination: rather than having a settlement imposed by a judge, child custody mediation offers the chance of a mutually-acceptable solution. The parents can ensure that the settlement reflects what is best for their children.
  • Flexibility: mediation sessions can be arranged around work and childcare commitments. This can again make the process less stressful and enable parents to focus fully on reaching an agreement.
  • Confidentiality: the family mediator will keep everything discussed confidential, allowing both parties to speak fully and openly.
  • Speed: mediation is usually much quicker than a formal legal process.

What should I expect at child custody mediation?

Should everyone be happy to proceed following the MIAM, the mediator and parents will agree to meet. The number of meetings and the length of those meetings will be flexible based upon what the parents and the mediator consider is necessary.

The mediator’s role at the sessions includes:

  • Steering the meetings so that there is sufficient time to discuss all the issues
  • Ensuring there is a safe, impartial environment where both parents can express their views
  • Helping the parents to identify all areas of dispute
  • Using their experience and expertise to explore possible solutions
  • Asking questions where necessary to help parents express themselves

When agreement has been reached, parents have the option of asking the court to make it legally binding. In practice, many parents do not feel this is necessary after having worked positively with their former partner in the sessions.

What should I ask for in child custody mediation?

It is important that each parent has a clear idea of the issues that they want to discuss at the sessions.

It is important to remember that when a couple separate, there are likely to be other areas in addition to child custody that will need to be resolved – including finance and property. These areas will impact on the child’s future and so it is likely to be important that they are addressed at the mediation sessions.

Parents may want to speak to their own solicitor in parallel with mediation – independent legal advice can sometimes give an important confidence that enables a final resolution to be reached.

Areas for discussion at the sessions can include:

  • What care arrangements should be in place?
  • What is agreed about taking the child on holidays?
  • How much of a financial contribution to the care of the child will each parent make?
  • What will the arrangements be around Christmas and for the child’s birthday?

Where can I find out more about mediation services for child access?

Edward Rawlins, the head of Wilson Browne’s Family Mediation Team, has more than 20 years’ experience in family law. His team have a successful track record of helping parents resolve child custody disputes by enabling them to work in a constructive and respectful manner.

Our service follows the FMC Code of Practice for Family Mediators to provide a guarantee of our integrity and impartiality.

Please contact us to find out more about how we can help you and your family.  Call 0800 088 6004 or fill in our online form.

Edward Rawlins


Edward Rawlins


Ed has over 20 years experience as a specialist advising on situations arising from the breakdown in relationships (marriage, civil partnerships and cohabitation) in respect of both children, finances and business assets. He is a member of Resolution and a Law Society Accredited Family Mediator.