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What to do if family mediation is unsuccessful

Posted on 22nd January 2021 in Family Law

Posted by

Aimee Aspinall

Associate and Chartered Legal Executive
What to do if family mediation is unsuccessful

In a previous insight we looked at how family mediation can help couples seperate. However it is also good to take into concoderation the outcomes of unsucessful mediation.

If progress is not being made, or if mediation breaks down or perhaps mediation was not deemed suitable for the parties at the initial intake session, then the parties should speak to their solicitors about the other options available to them.

Mediation breaking down will not always mean that court proceedings are inevitable, and the parties can continue their negotiations through solicitors if this is suitable. Proposals are exchanged in writing rather than in joint mediation sessions, and if agreement can be reached as a result then a formal written agreement can be drafted for both parties and their lawyers to sign.

In some cases, however, it is necessary for the parties to consider an application to court to resolve their dispute, whether this relates to arrangements for children or finances on divorce. It does not automatically follow that the parties are now engaged in acrimonious court proceedings, rather that they require the court’s assistance in concluding matters.

To start court proceeding, the party making the application (‘the applicant’) must obtain a certificate from the mediator confirming that they have attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) and that mediation was not suitable. There are some exceptions to this rule, primarily where there have been issues of domestic abuse which would automatically exempt parties from mediation. The certificate is released to the applicant and a copy is filed with the court application.

Once the court have issued the application a timetable is set for the first stages in the case which all parties must adhere to.

It is important to consider at the outset of your matter whether mediation is likely to assist you. If you have concerns about the openness of the other party or their willingness to take part in the process then mediation may not be the best way forward, and a clear timetable set down by a court may benefit you.


For further information about any part of divorce and seperation, or to talk to one of our dedicated Family team, visit their hub page.

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