Home > Legal > Mediation as a Solution for Child Custody and Visitation

Mediation as a Solution for Child Custody and Visitation

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 13 Feb 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Separated Dads Mediation Divorce

No one’s going to try to say that separating is easy. Even at its smoothest, it’s a dizzying, horrible experience. In court it can lead to a lot of acrimony, and where issues are contested, legal bills can easily soar into the thousands, something neither you nor you former partner need at this stage.

Before you head into a costly court battle, there is an alternative, and it’s one suggested surprisingly often by solicitors or courts. Mediation is a lot less divisive than court wrangling, and statistics have show that for both parents the results have proved to be more satisfying than drawn-out legal procedures. Additionally, it’s a great deal less expensive.

How It Works

Mediation is a series of sessions with a trained, neutral mediator to sort out the issues around splitting up – note that this isn’t an attempt to reconcile the two of you. These involve child residence and contact (always putting the welfare of the children first), but also cover legal and Financial Issues. If you’re married, it’s not a substitute for Divorce; you’ll still need to go through that, but with everything else taken care of in a written mediation agreement, it can prove to be a much faster, simpler, and cheaper procedure as you’ll have a consent order.

You attend a series of mediation sessions, each lasting between one and two hours; rarely are more than six sessions necessary. The initial meeting can be the with you and your ex or individually, discussing the issues and whether the two of you can meet face to face. At no time does the mediator attempt to make decisions for you or take either side in the discussion. They’re simply facilitators in the proceedings.

Both parties will need to give honest, signed information about their finances for mediation to work. Be aware, though, that mediation doesn’t work for everyone, although it’s successful in the vast majority of cases. Once you start, you’re still free to stop if you wish. Everything you say is confidential, with the exception of your financial information and anything that might come to light about the potential of harm to anyone, most particularly your children. Note, too, that you have to at least find out about mediation before you can qualify for legal aid for any court settlement.

What It Costs

It’s possible to get legal aid to cover the costs of mediation, but for most people, you’ll be paying the bill yourself. Depending on the number of sessions involved, this can run between £100 and £1000; a lot depends on the complexity of the cases and the number of issues involved.

The Sessions

Obviously, it’s simplest if the sessions involve you and your ex-partner together. If so, ground rules will be established regarding no interruptions, shouting and so on. You might need separate rooms with the mediator going between the two of you.

You’ll need to be prepared for give and take. When it comes to residence and Contact Orders, the two of you want the same thing, which is whatever’s best for the kids, and the mediator can help you work out the most viable, practical solutions. But that also includes financial issues, such as mortgages – the kids need somewhere to live, after all. It’s not easy, but the mediator works with the pair of you to establish a solution that’s satisfactory to you both (and to the children).

It culminates in an agreement, called a Memorandum of Understanding or Statement of Outcome. You’ll probably want to have your solicitor review the agreement before you sign it, and once signed the two of you can also have your solicitors sign it to make everything legally binding. It might also be that you only reach agreement on some issues. If so, the mediator will record these, and the others can be resolved in court.

If your children are older, many mediators will suggest involving them in the sessions. It makes sense, since, in essence, you’re discussing their welfare.

Finding a Mediator

The Family Mediation Helpline (www.familymediationhelpline.co.uk) or National Family Mediation (www.nfm.org.uk) can help connect you to a mediator, visit their website to find your nearest service and contact details. It’s not a solution that’s going to work in every single case, but it’s often proved a value solution for separating families. More about mediation can be found here.

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Dombcfc - Your Question:
My separated wife wants mediation to sort out access to our children. She walked on all of us. The children 10 and 14 only want to see her two nights every week but my separated wife wants them to be with her 3 overnights a week. She is not listening to what the children want. How will mediation sort this out

Our Response:
If you cannot sort it out via mediation, then your ex will have to apply through court if she will not agree. However, if she applies to court, as your children are now older their opinion will be taken into consideration by the judge. The courts will always decide upon what it thinks is in the best interests of your children.
SeparatedDads - 14-Feb-17 @ 2:38 PM
K - Your Question:
Hi. Me and my ex had a 10 month court battle with it resulting in. The children are to live with me and are not allowed oit of my region. With him having the children every 2 weeks for 2 nights. Ect.A couple weekends ago his misses messaged me and dropped my ex init that on Saturday and Sunday morning he will be at collage doing his course. So with that I said well would he like to leave having the kids till weekend after. He said no and went crazy. I asked what time he would be finished as he could pick them up on way back from course take them for a good few hours and bring them back for bed time. He could do that Saturday and sunday if he wanted but he got his knickers in a twist and said no not atall.Next thing I know I have mediation calling me. Help

Our Response:
Attend mediation. Neither of you have breached the order, therefore it is a matter of you trying to resolve any issues you have. However, if your ex has parental responsibility, he is allowed the responsibility to find someone to care for his children on the times when he has them (unless the order specifies otherwise).
SeparatedDads - 14-Feb-17 @ 1:02 PM
My separated wife wants mediation to sort out access to our children. She walked on all of us.The children 10 and 14 only want to see her two nights every week but my separated wife wants them to be with her 3 overnights a week.She is not listening to what the children want.How will mediation sort this out
Dombcfc - 13-Feb-17 @ 9:46 PM
Hi. Me and my ex had a 10 month court battle with it resulting in. The children are to live with me and are not allowed oit of my region. With him having the children every 2 weeks for 2 nights. Ect. A couple weekends ago his misses messaged me and dropped my ex init that on Saturday and Sunday morning he will be at collage doing his course. So with that I said well would he like to leave having the kids till weekend after. He said no and went crazy. I asked what time he would be finished as he could pick them up on way back from course take them for a good few hours and bring them back for bed time. He could do that Saturday and sunday if he wanted but he got his knickers in a twist and said no not atall... Next thing I know I have mediation calling me... Help
K - 13-Feb-17 @ 5:47 PM
My daughter and her ex attended mediation in September to make a new visitation agreement.The mediation went well and they were able to agree on a visitation agreement with lawyers present and signed.Five months after the mediation he has yet to sign the final copy that will go to the judge to be filed.Every time something in the agreement is not to his liking he calls his lawyer to make changes to the September agreement.How long can this go on and what are her choices for getting the mediated agreement signed?
DEE DEE - 10-Feb-17 @ 6:17 PM
My husband and his aunt is charged with 498a. Thus i filed a maintanance petition for maintanance for me and my 2.5 year old daughter. In the court mediation session took place.. in that we happened to reach in an agreement. I agreed him to visit daughter for 4 hours at an open ground.. grounds name is mentioned and meeting time is also mentioned.. but he and his family came and took my 2.5 year old daughter to some other place.. i dont know the place.. this is against our agreement..they came back and gave back child at the mentioned ground on time.. What should i do now.. should go for case again...? Is there any rule that he can take child to anywhere he want at his visitorial time?
Chinky - 22-Jan-17 @ 3:44 PM
Hi I have divorce over a year now from my ex husband my son is 11 yrs old .he was living with me .last June he went down for fathers day my ex husband refuse to send him back to me contact the police they said he done nothing wrong because we both can keep the boy because there is no court order in place he refused for my son to talk to me or for me to see.him .please advice me what to do he still living in our house I move out he refused to paid the mortgage I have to still paying for the house .in September this year he went and get married and what to bring this woman over to live in the house I'm paying for .
Rose - 27-Dec-16 @ 12:39 AM
Hopeful - Your Question:
My partner has been refused access to his child, despite making regular maintenance payments and continually asking for contact. He's been to the first MIAM meeting. The child's mother has been invited, but has contacted him to say she can't make an appointment until next year - what options do we have from here? Do we have to wait until it's convenient for her? (I am worried that this is another attempt to drag things out, as she has broken promises over previous commitments) What's our best option?

Our Response:
Your partner may wish to seek legal advice regarding whether he would now be able to apply to court on the basis that his ex is stalling the procedure.
SeparatedDads - 11-Nov-16 @ 2:01 PM
My partner has been refused access to his child, despite making regular maintenance payments and continually asking for contact. He's been to the first MIAM meeting. The child's mother has been invited, but has contacted him to say she can't make an appointment until next year - what options do we have from here? Do we have to wait until it's convenient for her? (I am worried that this is another attempt to drag things out, as she has broken promises over previous commitments) What's our best option?
Hopeful - 10-Nov-16 @ 7:59 PM
Maud76 - Your Question:
So.why can't I find info and advice???? I'm taking my childs FATHER to mediation ,divorce pending,as he won't see her but makes all the promises. The only advice I can find is for fathers fighting to see there children. Feels very lonely right now!!!

Our Response:
I'm afraid it is a different matter if the non-resident parent refuses to see their child, as a court cannot or will not enforce this, meaning if your ex refuses to see your child, there is very little you can do.
SeparatedDads - 26-Sep-16 @ 12:51 PM
So...why can't I find info and advice???? I'm taking my childs FATHER to mediation ,divorce pending,as he won't see her but makes all the promises. The only advice I can find is for fathers fighting to see there children. Feels very lonely right now!!!
Maud76 - 25-Sep-16 @ 9:16 PM
Wife - Your Question:
Hi, my husband is currently going through mediation with his ex partner over their child, I'm just wondering if I allowed to attend the mediation sessions? As a support to my husband and also as this is effecting my life also as she's using me as a part of the reason she has stopped us having my stepchild. I don't want to make the situation worse, but my husband and I would like me to be able to be involved in the process if I can, thanks.

Our Response:
It depends whether your husband's ex allows this. Mediation is a voluntary process and his ex can make the decision whether she wants to attend or not. Therefore, it would be her decision if she wanted to allow you into the discussion.
SeparatedDads - 26-Apr-16 @ 11:51 AM
Hi, my husband is currently going through mediation with his ex partner over their child, I'm just wondering if I allowed to attend the mediation sessions? As a support to my husband and also as this is effecting my life also as she's using me as a part of the reason she has stopped us having my stepchild. I don't want to make the situation worse, but my husband and I would like me to be able to be involved in the process if I can, thanks.
Wife - 25-Apr-16 @ 6:17 PM
Hi my partners ex disappeared with his 2 little girls and she won't say where they are; he needs to get access and I understand that until mediation is tried we can't put into the court to get access? How can we get her to attend mediation when we can't contact her? She just is interested in money and nothing else, every time we give her more (through the CMS) she tries to get even more and we don't have it-she's full of lies and all he wants is to see the kids. As she is so unreasonable could we apply straight to court or is it better to get a private investigator to find out her address and try to get her to mediation? Thanks for the advice!
Helcatamy - 26-Feb-16 @ 7:49 AM
Hi my friend is in prison for life he has a 9 year old son who he was regularly seeing until hi ex couldn't be bothered to take him anymore they no longer speak but is there any advice you could give me to pass on to him please he's desperate for access
Lady k - 19-Jan-16 @ 5:00 PM
Gaffer - Your Question:
Ive been split up for a few years now with my ex. I am wondering what my rights are regarding who lives or aound my son. She is freinds with violent people and her choice of men to come stay is becoming worrying for meand for the safety of my 7 year son. Her latest boyfreind is the pinnacle he is aviolent criminal who use hard drugs and just come out of prison.Thou I dont think he would harm kids. He has hurt robbed and stole from alot of people. I know for a fact that a gang of London gansters are looking for him with wapons wantin to kill him.I hope to god my son isnt there at that time. Ihave been there for my son from day dot I pay my way and see him friday to sunday every weekend it would be more if it wasnt for her actions and associates. I work full time but now I fear for my sons safety. I want custody of my son. Plese help

Our Response:
Please see link: Applying for Custody: Court Procedure, here. This will run through what the court considers when a non-resident parent applies for custody. If you are on good terms with your ex, then perhaps you could discuss your concern for the people she has around your son. Mediation is also an option and the courts will have expected you to have explored of offered this option to your ex before it will allow an application. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 8-Jan-16 @ 11:47 AM
Ive been split up for a few years now with my ex. I am wondering what my rights are regarding who lives or aound my son. She is freinds with violent people and her choice of men to come stay is becoming worrying for meand for the safetyof my 7 year son. Her latest boyfreind is the pinnacle he is aviolent criminal who use hard drugs and just come out of prison .Thou i dont think he would harm kids. He has hurt robbed and stole from alot of people . I know for a fact that a gang of London gansters are looking for him with wapons wantin to kill him .I hope to god my son isnt there at that time .Ihave been there for my son from day dot i pay my way and see him friday to sunday every weekend it would be more if it wasnt for her actions and associates.I work full time but now i fear for my sons safety. I want custody of my son. Plese help
Gaffer - 7-Jan-16 @ 5:14 PM
HI there. I am having a few issues with mywife (divorce pending) regarding shared parenting or shared access. I have suggested that i would like to see my daughter 3 days a week ( before my split i used to be a stay at home dad, was primary care giver and spent 14 hours a day nurturing our child) I have a strong relationship with our child and don't want that to diminish just because we are no longer married. My wife wants to go through mediationto "see what is in the best interests for our child" I really don't think that there is any need for mediation due to the fact that when our child is with me she is cared for, loved and nourished both physically and emotionally. I was "getting" to see my daughter 3 days a week but now my wife wants to change this and make us go through mediation. I have a fairly ok relationship with my wife, i don't cause any problems and will jump through as many hoops that she makes me jump through, however i find it increasingly difficult to bow to her demands just because she thinks that she can measure solely what is in the best interests of our child. I have read lots of literature regarding the benefits of shared access/parenting I have tried broaching the topic many times but it falls on deaf ear (she says it will affect our daughter all the toing and froing). but surelynot seeing me or indeed having limited access to me will only cause to be detrimental to our daughters emotional wellbeing. to further add to the complexity of the situation my wife is having treatment for mental health issues and seems to be erratic in her decision making. Im at a total loss as to what to do. do i have any rights?
ex stay at home dad - 28-Dec-15 @ 1:02 PM
Mads - Your Question:
Good DayCould you please assist. My daughter visits her dad that stays in a different Province then us, and I need to know were he will be with her and what time he will collect and drop her off again.I have asked in the past that he lets me know what time he will drop her off and then if he is late I normally sent a message asking if there are something wrong but no reply and then when she is dropped off I asked in the past that he be responsible and let me know if they will be late as I do worry, and yes his reply was "piss off"So now my question can I insist on what time he can collect and drop her off?

Our Response:
It sounds like you may not be based in the UK. If not, I'm afraid we can't answer your question as we only deal with UK-based family law. However, if you are based in the UK, you would have to make the drop off and pick up arrangements mutually. You could go through mediation (non official) or apply for a court order to have the arrangements made official. If your ex didn't fulfil the terms of the order, you could take it back to court for breach.
SeparatedDads - 22-Sep-15 @ 3:18 PM
Good Day Could you please assist. My daughter visits her dad that stays in a different Province then us, and i need to know were he will be with her and what time he will collect and drop her off again. I have asked in the past that he lets me know what time he will drop her off and then if he is late i normally sent a message asking if there are something wrong but no reply and then when she is dropped off i asked in the past that he be responsible and let me know if they will be late as i do worry, and yes his reply was "piss off" So now my question can i insist on what time he can collect and drop her off?
Mads - 22-Sep-15 @ 6:03 AM
I live interstate to my daughter I had moved way before I found out she was pregnant ever since my daughter was born I have struggled to deal with her mother she doesn't care if I have a realationship with my daughter all she cares about is how much money she can get out of me as I own my own business she has requested reevaluation of my wage 3 times now . I normally fly up there every 6 weeks to see her which I can't have my daughter on my own her mother always has to come n I always have to fund for her on the activities that we doshe constantly asks me for extra money n when I decline she refuses me to see her. N threatens to call the police if I just rock up to there houseshe has prevented me 3 times now after I have already booked my flights I just want to know what I can do n see what my options are as I live interstate n can't exactly have her every second weekend
Bigboy - 2-Jul-15 @ 1:16 PM
@rob - if you have exhausted the mediation service and you an your ex can't come to an agreement, then court is the next move if you want to apply for regular contact with your child. The downside to mediation is that, while it may cost less than a court case, whatever agreements are made through mediation are not legally binding and can be renaged upon without any repercusisons. However, if you take it through the courts, you can apply for an official contact order which means it is legally binding and anything that does not comply with the order is a breach and may be punishable. Perhaps this is the reason why she may not wish to go through the courts - however you are entitled to take this route, should you wish. I have included a link to The Different Types of Court Orders here. I hope this helps
SeparatedDads - 22-Jun-15 @ 12:13 PM
i need help been to mediation for over 1yr i want more visits with my daughter and want to go to court my ex is refusing can i still apply ,im a good father and when i have my daughter we have fun time which she loves ,she is 5 what do i do
rob - 19-Jun-15 @ 11:30 AM
It looks like my partner will have to go to mediation with his ex. And i was wondering was I able to go to mediation with him as we live together and have a child together to discuss areangements on having his child?
Kirst - 15-Jun-15 @ 2:35 PM
Need advice on mediation as me and my ex partner has split we have aone year old daughter between us.. We have been split for 8months I was having access to seeing my little girl until I told my ex that I was seeing someone new she told me that if I wanted to see my daughter again I'd have to go through court since then she has blocked me from facebook and whatsapp plus changed her phone number so I have no contact with her at all.... How do I get mediation started off
Philboy - 19-May-15 @ 11:57 AM
@Talg - I'm not sure I really understand your question. However, if he is not on the birth certificate, then he does not have parental responsibility and therefore he has no say. If he wanted to take it to court he would have to apply for parental responsibility and also apply for a 'specific issue order'. I have included a link to what parental responsibility means here. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 29-Apr-15 @ 9:56 AM
Hi my lil boys potentional father wants to see a solicitor about a fan I've been told that he can only have one if I give permission as he is not on the birth certificate what r the chances of him being able to take me to court I have not stopped him having contact
Talg - 26-Apr-15 @ 10:25 AM
Ok... I am having a nightmare with my ex at the moment. I have 2 children one of whom is autistic and she switches contact off and on like a tap. This is having a major affect on my sons mental health which her and her very selfish family are oblivious to. She had a fling recently which meant access was great for me because although I am their dad,to her I was a babysitter on tap. Unfortunately that has ended and now I am getting the old abuse about seeing a tart (she even as my 6 year old son asking if the tart is at my house) So there is no contact again. Anyway times are hard right now but I am attending a self made mediation appointment tomorrow so fingers crossed. One last thing..For want of sounding rude there are plenty of sights where women vent off about us can I ask why women are commenting on a page for dads?
Daddys Boys - 28-Oct-14 @ 9:38 PM
I split with my partner whilst pregnant after he tried to ban me from injecting myself with insulin as I was diagnosed whilst pregnant with diabetes.He then said he wanted me to give him the baby when it was born so he could give it to his parents to raise.When I refused he told me to get an abortion.I refused he then made threats that when the baby was born he was going to take the baby and not allow me any contact.My partner sent texts messages calling me abusive names (I have these texts).When I fell pregnant my partner started going to the pub on a more regular basis and was then driving whilst drunk to my house on a weekly basis (I have texts conversations where we argue about him doing this he admits in the texts to doing it).He has 4 convictions for drink driving and one for driving whilst disqualified he only got his license back after the last conviction 18 months ago.He refused to stop smoking around me whilst I was pregnant and insisted that it would not cause harm to the baby if he continued to smoke around it once it was born.I suffered 3 threatened miscarriages and not once did he attend the hospital with me for the scans to see if I had miscarried and he refused to do anything to help me, he told me his mother was going to have a go at me when she see me as I was out of order asking him for help.When we split he refused to contribute towards anything that would be needed for when the baby was born said he wasnt wasting his money on a baby.12 weeks into the pregnancy my ex told me that he wanted to reconcile and that he would allow me to inject the insulin if I agreed to do what all druggies do and inject myself in the toilet.I refused and told him I did not want to reconcile to which he text me saying then that he would have to hurt himself (I have this text message).I was advised by my midwife to notify the police of these threats which I done.Then he got himself a new partner and they both started phoning me whilst drunk in the early hours of the morning to call me abusive names and making threats to take my baby and not allow me to ever see it.This was also reported to the police, to which they were then advised not to contact me again and that all future contact regarding the baby was to be done via a solicitor.I received a letter from his solicitor a month after my son was born, my ex had even informed his solicitor of the wrong due date.Since then I have again had to call the police as he started to send text messages again. My baby is now nearly 18 weeks old and my ex hasn't seen him yet, he wants access.I have agreed to him having supervised access 2 hours a week at my parents house.He has asked if he can bring one of his parents as he would feel uncomfortable to which I have agreed to his father attending.I am not agreeing to his mother due to the threats made towards me whilst I was pregnant, I am not prepared to let her have a go at me in front of my son.We are now having to atte
twinkle - 7-Oct-14 @ 9:03 PM
I split with my partner whilst pregnant after he tried to ban me from injecting myself with insulin as I was diagnosed whilst pregnant with diabetes.He then said he wanted me to give him the baby when it was born so he could give it to his parents to raise.When I refused he told me to get an abortion.I refused he then made threats that when the baby was born he was going to take the baby and not allow me any contact.My partner sent texts messages calling me abusive names (I have these texts).When I fell pregnant my partner started going to the pub on a more regular basis and was then driving whilst drunk to my house on a weekly basis (I have texts conversations where we argue about him doing this he admits in the texts to doing it).He has 4 convictions for drink driving and one for driving whilst disqualified he only got his license back after the last conviction 18 months ago.He refused to stop smoking around me whilst I was pregnant and insisted that it would not cause harm to the baby if he continued to smoke around it once it was born.I suffered 3 threatened miscarriages and not once did he attend the hospital with me for the scans to see if I had miscarried and he refused to do anything to help me, he told me his mother was going to have a go at me when she see me as I was out of order asking him for help.When we split he refused to contribute towards anything that would be needed for when the baby was born said he wasnt wasting his money on a baby.12 weeks into the pregnancy my ex told me that he wanted to reconcile and that he would allow me to inject the insulin if I agreed to do what all druggies do and inject myself in the toilet.I refused and told him I did not want to reconcile to which he text me saying then that he would have to hurt himself (I have this text message).I was advised by my midwife to notify the police of these threats which I done.Then he got himself a new partner and they both started phoning me whilst drunk in the early hours of the morning to call me abusive names and making threats to take my baby and not allow me to ever see it.This was also reported to the police, to which they were then advised not to contact me again and that all future contact regarding the baby was to be done via a solicitor.I received a letter from his solicitor a month after my son was born, my ex had even informed his solicitor of the wrong due date.Since then I have again had to call the police as he started to send text messages again. My baby is now nearly 18 weeks old and my ex hasn't seen him yet, he wants access.I have agreed to him having supervised access 2 hours a week at my parents house.He has asked if he can bring one of his parents as he would feel uncomfortable to which I have agreed to his father attending.I am not agreeing to his mother due to the threats made towards me whilst I was pregnant, I am not prepared to let her have a go at me in front of my son.We are now having to atte
twinkle - 7-Oct-14 @ 9:02 PM
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