Austin Chessell joined London Family Solicitor in October 2019.

Below are Austin’s top 10 tips on how to get ready for Family Mediation.

1. If financial matters are discussed in Family Mediation start collecting your financial disclosure now. Pension documents can sometimes take a while to arrive so you should look to collate your financial information as soon as possible;

2. Do not bring your children to the Family Mediation intake meeting. Personal matters are being discussed. See if it is possible to arrange childcare while you are at the mediation meeting.

3. Is now the right time for both of you to mediate? If the separation has happened very recently are you both mentally in the right place to discuss the separation? Short term and long term separation matters can be discussed when both clients are ready to start mediation.

4. If children matters need to be covered consider if your children should be involved in the mediation process. The mediator can meet with your children separately and provide feedback to the parents afterwards on what they would like to happen. This may then help to shape what the childcare arrangements should be.

5. For the mediation sessions should you be in the same or different rooms? Most clients I work with are in the same room but in certain situations I do shuttle mediation with clients in different rooms which can also produce successful outcomes.

6. How many mediation sessions will there be? Typically there are around 1-5 joint sessions if there are children and financial matters. There are around 1-3 joint sessions if it is children or financial matters. Joint sessions are 90 minutes. The sessions can take place at the frequency that suits you both but it can be good to have a short gap between sessions so that you have time to reflect on your important decisions.

7. Can Solicitors attend the mediation session? Yes we can work with this model if all clients would like this to happen. Usually clients seek legal advice before or in between mediation sessions but if both clients would like their Solicitor to attend we can facilitate this.

8. Are you able to consider the perspective of the other client? You may come to mediation with an idea what would like as an outcome but are you able to put yourself in the shoes of the other client to also see things from their point of view.

9. Have you discussed Family Mediation with your former partner? If you have not discussed mediation with your former partner the Mediator can contact your former partner but if you are on speaking terms with your former partner then it may help to explore with them if they are also willing to attend mediation.

10. Common themes we work with in Family Mediation are divorce, children and financial matters. However, sometimes before we can work on these matters we need to explore why the trust has broken down and what needs to change going forwards and if there is currently no communication what form of communication can work and how frequent the communication should be.

Austin Chessell trained as a Family Mediator in 2010. He is a dual Accredited Family Mediator with the Law Society and FMCA.
He is also trained to mediate with children.
Austin is a Professional Practice Consultant (PPC) and mentors Family Mediators who are working towards accreditation and accredited Family Mediators.
Austin runs the London Family Mediation Group that meets several times a year in Central London for Mediators to discuss current Family Mediation developments and how to improve Family Mediation practice.

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