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 What is family mediation?

What is family mediation?

We can offer you the full range of family mediation services, helping to minimise costs and ease the transition of a breakdown in your relationship.


Family mediation refers to mediation involving ex partners in respect of aspects relating to their divorce and separation. It is a voluntary process. The mediator is always an impartial third party. The mediator’s role is to help separated individuals / parents communicate in a constructive way about problematic issues and to work towards a resolution.

The process empowers participants to reach their own solution, avoiding the prospect of conflict and confrontation. This in turn reduces the prospect of the need for going to court. It can reduce what individuals spend on lawyers. Very importantly, it can assist individuals and families transition through separation in a supported and safe environment.  Moreover, the process is generally much quicker than raising an action through the family court and enables more creativity and flexibility than litigation.  It also allows parties to retain greater control around decisions to be made relating to their finances, children, etc, rather than leaving it up to a court to decide such matters.


What Types of Issues Can Family Mediation Help Resolve?

Family mediation may be appropriate for resolving a variety of issues, most notably how finances following separation should be divided (such as the family home, pensions and other assets), child arrangements (including residence and contact), reaching agreement on child maintenance payments and dealing with any debts.

For example, parents may be struggling to agree on what contact arrangements should be put in place in respect of their children. Mediation can assist in terms of getting both parties to a place where they can be mindful of what should be their common goal, i.e. the best interests of the child, without letting their conflicting opinions get in the way of this. Sometimes, just having an impartial third party to help parties along the way can make a huge difference to the chance of being able to resolve family disputes.

Mediation is not just for adults; children can also be included in the process. This can be of significant benefit to the children themselves, but also the parents and ensures that a holistic approach is taken when trying to resolve matters that ultimately affect the whole family unit.

There are, of course, certain cases where mediation would not be recommended, for example where domestic abuse has/has previously been a relevant factor, or where a decision requires to be made urgently.

The Family Mediation Process

Once family mediation has been identified as the preferred method of conflict resolution, parties can either contact a mediator directly, or they can ask their solicitor to do this on their behalf. Providing both parties agree, intake meetings will be arranged individually with each party. This is to allow the mediator an opportunity to assess whether mediation will in fact be suitable for the particular individuals. Initial meetings are also used to provide participants with some general mediation information about mediation and to begin the process of identifying the key issues to be addressed within future sessions. Thereafter, the usual practice is to hold joint meetings with both parties in attendance, however there is also the option to carry out sessions using a shuttle format, if that is more appropriate in the particular circumstances.

During mediation sessions, the mediator will guide the parties in an attempt to establish common ground, thereby narrowing the issues in dispute. There will be a focus on gathering relevant information and constructive communication. The mediator will remain neutral at all times, never taking sides, which is an attractive aspect of the process for participants.

In terms of how many sessions may be required, this will vary between cases, depending on the particular issues to be resolved and how invested participants are in the mediation process. Generally speaking, however, significant progress in relation to establishing the specific aspects of the case that require to be dealt with and also an idea of possible options to achieve resolution. Mediation sessions typically last around 90 minutes per session.

Confidentiality is an important feature of the mediation process which is protected through the Civil Evidence (Family Mediation) (Scotland) Act 1995. This legislation ensures that anything discussed during mediation sessions will be treated as confidential, unless both parties agree otherwise or the mediator is compelled by law to disclose certain information.

How to Find a Family Mediator

There are a range of options available in terms of finding a mediator to assist with a family law dispute. You may prefer to opt for a family mediator who is also a qualified family solicitor. CALM (Comprehensive Accredited Lawyer Mediators) Scotland was established in 1993. The organisation is the only organisation in Scotland where all the accredited mediators are practising solicitors. All of the family mediators are experienced family lawyers who have gained additional qualifications in mediation and are accredited by the Law Society of Scotland. The CALM Scotland website, allows you to browse all of their accredited family lawyer-mediators, and provides useful information in terms of each mediator’s background and relevant experience, making it easier to choose someone you feel would be particularly suitable for the specific dispute in question. Family Law Mediators in Scotland are bound by a Code of Practice and undertake continuous professional development training and assessment.

There are also other organisations where you can access family mediators who have professional backgrounds in fields other than law, for example counselling. Scottish Mediation, the Family Mediators Association and Relationships Scotland are just a few examples of such organisations.

Of course, if you are already instructing a family lawyer, they should be able to provide you with some recommendations. Alternatively, friends or family may have been involved in the mediation process previously and could perhaps point you in the right direction.

The Benefits of Family Mediation

There are many benefits of family mediation which may be of importance for prospective participants. Perhaps most importantly, it provides a method of resolving disputes whereby communication can be improved and relationships preserved. In addition, mediation can assist individuals and families transition through separation in a supported and safe environment.

Moreover, it allows parties to retain greater control concerning decisions to be made in respect of their finances, children, etc, being active participants in the process, rather than leaving it up to a court to decide such matters, Parties also have control over their choice of mediator and can choose someone who they feel is a good fit for the particular dispute they are faced with.

On a practical level, mediation can often be more cost-effective in terms of both time and money when compared to other methods of resolution, in particular court proceedings. Additionally, parties are able to withdraw from, or terminate the mediation process if they so choose, making it a very flexible option.

One of the principal benefits of mediation is its success rate and the durability of results. The fact that parties have been involved in all aspects of arriving at an agreed position is often a key reason for the success of mediation.

Family Mediation in Scotland

In Scotland, family lawyers can gain Law Society of Scotland accreditation as mediators via the organisation CALM Scotland. By visiting the organisation’s website you can browse the full list of available CALM lawyer-mediators. Family Law Mediators in Scotland are bound by a Code of Practice and undertake continuous professional development training and assessment.

Family mediation in Scotland is either paid for privately or through Legal Aid, providing parties meet eligibility requirements and can find an available mediator who will offer Legal Aid rates. There are also organisations who provide services at a reduced rate or free of charge, such as Relationships Scotland.


Mediation can be used successfully to resolve a wide breadth of family disputes, from issues arising from separation or divorce, to matters involving children, including contact and residence. It is particularly effective as a method of dispute resolution for a number of reasons. It provides parties with a degree of choice and control over various aspects of the process, including who they appoint as a mediator. Moreover, it is relatively quick and inexpensive compared with some other methods of reaching resolution, particularly court actions.


“I was resistant at first to sharing feelings with Karen and her colleague Amanda but by the end of the sessions I felt a weight lifted and was very satisfied with the financial outcome. Thanks.”

– HM client

“Everything was handled with great empathy and care which made a stressful situation easier all round.”

– Ronald Hutchison, HM client

“The team is connected. Whoever you speak with knows your situation and seems to understand your specific needs. My experience throughout a difficult period in my life has been one of empathy, compassion, understanding and support.”

– The Legal 500 2024

“This is a strong and innovative family law team. They have been proactive in exploring developments in family law, for example through their “Modern Families” initiative.”

– The Legal 500 2024

Accredited specialists

Members of our family law team are accredited by the Law Society of Scotland.


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Get in touch

Call us for free on 0141 227 9545 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.

Speak to us today on 0141 227 9545

Get in touch


Get in touch

Call us for free on 0141 227 9545 or complete our online form below to submit your enquiry or arrange a call back.