Family Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process which allows a couple who are separating or divorcing to communicate face to face with the assistance of a mediator rather than through lawyers or in Court.

The mediator is impartial and neutral and facilitates discussion on solutions about, parenting the children, financial support, housing, pensions and inheritance rights or whatever issues are important to the parties. Through a series of meetings the couple work through the issues and try to reach agreement. Full and frank financial disclosure is essential to the process.

If advice or further information is needed it is obtained between meetings, such as valuation of property, tax advice and pensions information and brought into the process. It is recommended that each have their own legal advisor who can support the process by being available to give legal advice as issues arise.

If agreement is reached at mediation it is recorded in a memorandum of understanding and given to both who can then discuss with their lawyers how it should be implemented for example by separation or divorce.

Muriel is a family mediator and a member of the Mediators Institute Ireland.