Mediation is a way of trying to reach agreement with your Ex over ongoing arrangements for the Children, with an impartial person there - the mediator - to try and help you both see what is best for the children and come to an arrangements. An agreement reached at mediation is not legally binding however. Only a court order is legally binding, whether that is reached by consent (no court appearance), or via a court application.

Before you can apply to court you need to have had a MIAM by law. A MIAM is the first mediation appointment - which you go to on your own. It stands for Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting. At this first session you will talk to the mediatior about the current issues, and they will explain to you what mediation is and how it can help. At this first session also they can do a financial assessment to see if you're eligible for legal aid. They will then contact your Ex to see if she will agree to come to mediation and the next appointment will be for both of you. If your Ex refuses to go to mediation or keeps delaying, you can ask the mediator to sign you off. This gives you the form you need to apply to court for a Child Arrangements Order. The MIAM sign off lasts for 3 months. After that, if you need to apply to court, you would need to have another MIAM.

You don't need a Solicitor to organise mediation, you can do it yourself. Google "Family Mediators" in your region and phone around them to see who has the earliest appointment or who you like the sound of. You can also contact the Family Mediation Council who will help find mediation for you.

Family Mediation Council