Reaching Agreements & Mediation
Unless specified, this information relates only to England and Wales. If you live in Scotland, go to Parenting across Scotland for information and advice. If you live in Northern Ireland, go to NI direct.
If you are separating, you will need to agree with your ex-partner how you wish to deal with the practicalities of your split.
What do I need to agree?
If you’re making an agreement with your ex-partner, here is some guidance to help you:
- Start by discussing the things you agree on, rather than the things you disagree on.
- Remember that there are many ways to resolve your dispute without going through the courts. Consider other options first- family mediation can be less confrontational, cheaper and quicker than going to court.
- If you have a dispute about children, or if you are seeking a financial remedy as a result of divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership, you are now required to go to a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM). In this meeting you can find out about and consider mediation, or other ways to help you reach an agreement without applying to court for an order. There are some exemptions to this requirement, such as if you have evidence of domestic violence or child protection concerns.
If you have children, it is important to concentrate on what’s best for your child.
- Try to start a new parenting relationship where you can work together to move on.
- Focus on the task of parenting – not fighting or blaming each other.
- Mediation can help you talk about and agree what you think is best for your child.
- If you ask the court to make an order it is important to understand what the law says. The court has to look at what the child needs, not what the parents want.
Where can I go next?
Resolution - options for separating families
Resolution is an organisation of 6,500 family law professionals who promote a non-confrontational approach to family breakdown. Here they provide information on the options available to separating families.
National Family Mediation - Find a service near you
National Family Mediation is the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales. Its experienced professional mediators can help you settle property, finance and parenting arrangements, without the need for a court room battle.
Gingerbread - Help reaching agreements when a relationship ends
Gingerbread provides expert information, advice, practical support and campaigns for single parent families. They run a free Helpline, have a website packed with interactive advice and forums, and offer training opportunities.
Money Advice Service - Reaching a fair agreement
This guide from the Money Advice Service that summarises the key principles that the courts apply when reaching their decisions.