Professional mediation

Mediation sessions are run by professionals who help you try to reach an agreement without going to court.

Mediation isn't relationship counselling and you don't have to be in the same room as the other parent.

You could get up to £500 towards family mediation

This is a scheme that provides a contribution to the cost of family mediation. It is only available for a limited time.
Find out more about the family mediation voucher scheme .

Choose Professional mediation if...

You both want to reach an agreement but need help from someone who is independent.

If you've been invited to mediation, find out what it means for you .


  • it's quicker than court in most cases
  • can be cheaper than using a lawyer
  • less conflict between parents
  • helps children continue family relationships
  • agreements are flexible


  • you'll need a consent order to make agreement legally binding
  • process won't work unless parents can co-operate

Understanding family mediation

Understanding family mediation - Video on YouTube

Step 1 Find a mediator

Mediator rates can vary depending on their experience and your location. Some offer reductions if you're unemployed or on a low income.

Check with the mediator before booking and don't be afraid to shop around.

Step 2 Book initial meeting with mediator

You must then meet with the mediator to check if mediation is right for you. The mediator will also tell you about other options to help you reach an agreement.

This initial meeting is called a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM).

The other parent will need to see the mediator too. They can either come to the same MIAM as you or have a separate meeting with the mediator.

If you or the other parent want to go to court you must attend a MIAM, unless you're exempt.

At the meeting the mediator will explain:

If you apply to court only mediators authorised by the Family Mediation Council can carry out a MIAM. Check with the mediator before you book.

Average cost of MIAM per person


Estimated fees may vary depending on your location and the experience of the mediator. Some mediators offer reductions if you're unemployed or on a low income. It may also be cheaper if you attend together. If you or the other parent are eligible for legal aid you both will qualify for a free MIAM.

Step 3 Attend mediation sessions

Mediation usually takes place face-to-face with the other parent over several sessions. Each session lasts about 90 minutes.

You can choose to have mediation:

  • in the same room
  • in different rooms (shuttle mediation)
  • on different days
  • with your children (child-inclusive mediation)
  • with a lawyer (lawyer-assisted mediation)

During the sessions the mediator will:

  • discuss what your options are
  • make sure you and the other parent both have a chance to speak
  • tell you when you might need further help (for example pension advice)
  • ensure you make decisions together that are in your children's best interests

Average cost of mediation per person


Estimated cost based on an average of 3 sessions. Fees may vary depending on your location and the experience of the mediator. Some mediators offer reductions if you're unemployed or on a low income. Legal aid may be available for mediation. You could get up to £500 towards family mediation.

Step 4 Get agreement in writing

If you both reach an agreement the mediator will write down the details. This isn't legally binding but is flexible so you can both agree to update it if your situation changes.

Making your agreement legally binding

You can ask a lawyer to draft a consent order if you or the other parent prefer to make your agreement legally binding.

This can be useful if your arrangements are long and complex or you think you need a more formal agreement with the other parent.

GOV.UK has more information about consent orders and making your agreement legally binding.