What is family mediation?
- Family mediation is a service to help married and non-married couples who have decided to separate or divorce, or who have already separated.
- Couples are helped by a mediator to negotiate their own terms of agreement, taking into account the needs and interests of all involved.
- In certain circumstances, mediation can also assist in disputes within families.
- Mediation is not marriage counselling or a legal advice service.
- Mediation allows people to make their own decisions and hold onto their own power.
- The Family Mediation Service is a state-run service staffed by professionally trained and accredited mediators.
- The service is free.
- It was set up in 1986 and now operates under the auspices of the statutory Family Support Agency.
- There are 16 offices located around the country.
How can mediation help?
The Family Mediation Service (FMS) encourages the separating couple to co-operate with each other in working out mutually acceptable arrangements on all or any of the following:
- Parenting the children
- Financial support
- Family home & property
- Other issues related to the separation
What is the mediator's role?
- To see a couple together and look at issues to be discussed and agreed.
- To create a climate in which neither party dominates but in which both parties participate fully in good faith.
- To create and maintain an atmosphere of co-operation and responsibility.
- To help couples deal with difficult emotional issues that can prevent them reaching agreement.
- To help couples reach agreement that they both find acceptable.
How does the service operate?
A professionally trained Mediator assists the couple to reach their own agreement.
- Both parties attend.
- Discussions are confidential.
- The Mediator does not take sides.
For an appointment both parties must contact the service independently and confirm that they are willing to attend.
How long does it take?
Mediation usually takes between three and six sessions. Each session lasts approximately one hour.
Most mediations end with a written document that sets out all the details of the couple’s agreement.
This can then be taken to solicitors to be drawn into a Legal Contract or Legal Deed of Separation and/or used as the basis for a Decree of Divorce.
What is a family session?
When a couple has reached agreement, a session is offered to parents with children to discuss their new family arrangements in an encouraging and positive way.
What are the advantages of mediation?
- It is a confidential service.
- A balanced agreement is reached that is acceptable to the parties.
- Decisions taken together are more likely to be honoured.
- It promotes communication and co-operation, reducing bitterness and distress.
- Parents are helped to remain as partners in childrearing by developing parenting plans that suit their particular circumstances.
- Parents are helped to manage conflict in a way that protects the best interests of their children.
- The service is FREE
How do I get an appointment for mediation?
- We will ask you to provide your contact details in order to open a new file.
- The second party needs to contact the same office as well, to confirm his/her interest to attend mediation.
- In some circumstances there may be communication difficulties between the parties. In this situation the office can, at your request, send a letter to the other party letting them know you have registered and inviting them to contact us for futher information about the service.
- Once both of you are confirmed that you are interested, your case will be transferred to our waiting list.
- We will inform you (by letter or phone) about your appointment.
Please note that FMS have no child-minding facilities and therefore no children under 14 years should be brought into the FMS offices.
It is strict FMS policy that children, however young, will not be admitted to a mediation session except for a pre-arranged family session or a direct consultation with children session.