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Family Mediation in Southampton

About Direct Mediation Services in Southampton

We are family mediators with our base in Southampton. We hold accreditation from the Family Mediation Council and work under the leadership of Stuart Hanson. Stuart is a multiple award-winning mediator and belongs to the College of Mediators. As well as being a mediator himself, Stuart also passes on his extensive experience to other mediators in national training events.

We offer mediation services to clients whether they are funded through Legal Aid or paying privately. Our Mediation Information & Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) and mediation services to clients are offered online or face-to-face in the Southampton area. We are fully authorised to sign mediation certificates on court forms including FM1 or C100.

Most of our work involves supporting families going through changes as a result of families having to restructure or who are going through separation or divorce. Our completely impartial and well-trained family mediators support you and your former partner to communicate calmly about the issues you face and find agreements on what the future arrangements will look like. This is often much more satisfactory than leaving it to the courts to dictate to you what you have to do. We help you discuss rationally what will be best for your children and yourselves.

What are the reasons for choosing family mediation?

It can be a big step to decide to give mediation a try. Both of you need to acknowledge that you need help to resolve the issues you face and commit to asking for that help. It is not unusual for communication to become very difficult once a family relationship breaks down. Mediation is often an effective way of supporting you when you need to improve a very difficult situation. It might sound almost impossible when you start trying to resolve your differences, but impartial family mediation can help you find agreements which you can all work with.

We try to make it as easy as possible to make the big first step to contact a mediation service. Your first point of contact at Southampton Family Mediation is either by phone or online. After that, you can talk to Southampton Family Mediation at any time for answers to your questions about how the process works or what services we can provide you as one of our clients.

What are the things we can help with?

Child Arrangements:

How will my children divide their time between me and my ex-partner?

Will one of us have to pay maintenance – and how much?

How are the children dealing with all this? What can I do to help?


When my former partner and I have to talk to each other, how do we avoid conflict?

How do we make sure we do what’s in the best interests of our children now that we are living separate lives?

Can my new partner be involved in some way with my children? I don’t want this to cause even more conflict with my ex.

Arrangements concerning finances and property

Will one of us live in the family home or will it be sold?

How do we agree how to divide our assets?

I don’t know how I will be able to manage on the money I will be getting – is there anything I can do?

Why should my family agree to mediation?

It’s a much better way to make sure you protect your children’s best interests.

The more amicable the arrangements between their parents are, the better for the children. It is best for them to keep good relationships with each side of the family.

You can expect it to be a much quicker process than going through the court process

Cases settled through mediation on average take about 110 days. Where mediation is not used, the average is 435 days. You are therefore likely to get everything settled over 10 months quicker by choosing mediation.

It will probably save you money

A 2012 National Audit Report found that a client will pay an average of around £675 using mediation. The court route would cost around £2,823 on average. So, if you can agree things through mediation, you stand to save an average of £2,148.

The decisions about the solution that is best for your family is yours, not the court’s

Your mediator is there to support you to come to a solution that all parties agree they can live with. We can also advise and support you if you feel you need to make agreements you have come to legally binding.

Your discussions are held in a safe and confidential environment.

Face-to-face meetings will always be held somewhere neutral or at your mediator’s office. Your discussions are always guaranteed to be completely confidential.

It is a lot less stressful and conflict is much less likely.

The court system generally feels like it is setting the two sides against each other. Mediation is not about a situation of “them and us”. It does not set out to create winners and losers; the bigger picture is always kept in mind. We support your discussions and keep you on track to reach an agreement that is as amicable as possible.

What is involved in the mediation process?

Your first meeting (MIAM)

The initial meeting you will have is called the Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM). This explains how the process of mediation can support all of you in your family. There will be plenty of time for you to ask questions about anything you are not sure about the process and what to expect. Your accredited mediator will discuss your personal situation with you, what you hope to achieve and what your feelings about the situation are. This meeting could be somewhere neutral face-to-face, or held online. We use different platforms for online meetings (e.g. Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp). As a rule, MIAMs take from 45 minutes to one hour.

Your MIAM will just be with you and your mediator. Your ex-partner will not be at this meeting. Sometimes, people might be worried about the thought of being in a room with their former partner for their mediation sessions. This is often the case if there is some history of animosity between you or if you do not directly communicate with each other anymore. If this is likely to be an issue for either of you, we are able to offer “Shuttle Mediation” which might help (see later). If necessary, you can talk to your mediator about this option during your MIAM.

The MIAM meeting will include the following discussion points:

How mediation works;

Whether mediation appears suitable for you, or alternative resolution methods that might be better for your circumstances. Examples include collaborative law, solicitor negotiation, or arbitration. Occasionally, however, court proceedings might be the only realistic option at this stage;

The advantages you might get from using mediation or alternative sorts of resolution processes;

An estimate of how many sessions you can expect you might need;

A personalised estimate of the likely mediation costs in your case; and

Whether Legal Aid might be available to pay for your mediation.

Agreement to mediate

This explains the rules of conduct while in the mediation room. The mediator will discuss these with you at your first meeting. Everyone taking part in mediation is required to sign this agreement before you have your first joint session. By doing this, you each confirm that you will stick to the rules of conduct. You can ask at your MIAM to see the wording of the Agreement to Mediate you will need to sign.

Different methods of mediation

There are four different ways that mediation sessions can be structured. Your mediator will discuss them with you. All parties can then decide and agree the one that they feel most comfortable with.

Sole mediation

This is the most frequent type of mediation selected. You, your former partner and your qualified mediator will discuss together potential solutions to resolve your difficulties. It often takes around three sessions, but this does depend on how complex your situation is. Sole mediation is usually quicker than if you are in separate rooms (shuttle mediation – see later). Session will usually last between an hour and an hour and a half.


Co-mediation mean you need more than one mediator to be involved. This can be if your issues mean that more than two people need to come to agreement. Co-mediation might also be needed if several issues have to be covered during the mediation, which need different sorts of skills and experience from your mediator. A third instance where co-mediation might be helpful is when there is more severe conflict between parties.

Shuttle mediation

Sometimes, either or both people might not feel safe or comfortable if they have to be in the same room as the other person. Shuttle mediation might help here. The two of you will be in different rooms and the mediator(s) “shuttle” between you so you do not have to actually come into contact with your ex-partner. Although mediation usually tries to improve how two people can communicate with each other, this is not part of the aim of shuttle mediation. We have to accept that occasionally relations between former partners cannot be mended. The aim of shuttle mediation is to ensure safer negotiations. There is a big drawback though: shuttle mediation is significantly more time consuming. It will therefore be more expensive than other mediation methods.

Child Consultations

From time to time, it might be appropriate for a child aged under 18 to have some involvement in mediation. This will only happen if everyone agrees – you, your ex-partner and the child themself. Only mediators who have had specialist training will mediate with children. The child themself will not be expected to make any choices or decisions, but it means their wishes can be fully taken into account by all involved.

The final outcome

When you have had your final mediation session, your mediator will advise you on how you will be able to make the agreements you reached into court orders. This will make your agreement legally binding for both of you. Usually, you do not need to make arrangements that relate to children binding through the courts. Financial issues, however, should normally be confirmed by the courts to protect both of you.

Unfortunately, sometimes mediation does not end with an agreement between the parties. If this is your situation, you and your mediator will discuss some other options open to you. These could include court proceedings, or arbitration. The mediator will sometimes recommend you to consult other relevant professionals (for example, a pensions specialist), before you finally make your decisions. But mediators will not tell you precisely what you have do. They will give you options to choose from.

How much can I expect family mediation in Southampton to cost me?

The answer to this depends on whether either your ex-partner or you qualify to be funded by Legal Aid or whether you will be paying privately.

Legal Aid

People who are eligible for funding through Legal Aid do not pay anything for their mediation. People who are on certain specific benefits, or those who work but have a low income, could be eligible. If you get Job Seekers Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance (based on your income in both cases), Pension Credit, Income Support, or Universal Credit, you will often qualify for Legal Aid. Sometimes, your former partner will qualify for Legal Aid while you do not. If this is your situation, the Legal Aid award pays for your MIAM as well as your first session of mediation. You then have to pay from your second mediation session onwards, so this will save you money. We will help you apply to find out whether you can get Legal Aid if you think it might apply for your situation. You need to keep in mind that to process a Legal Aid application takes 10 working days. It must be done before you book your MIAM. You cannot have your MIAM and then apply for Legal Aid later.

Privately Paying

If you are paying privately, you have three options:

Online MIAM during regular office hours (£130) BOOK NOW

Your online MIAM appointment during normal working hours will be within three days from your booking. You might be able to arrange your appointment online to do in your lunch break, or to fit in around school runs, for example. Let us know the best time to fit in with your commitments and we will often be able to arrange a time that fits your day. If you need your MIAM to be in a face-to-face meeting, it will probably take longer to arrange. Our team will be able to give you more details.

Weekends/evening/early morning online (£180) BOOK NOW

Some people’s work commitments make MIAMS during the normal working day difficult to arrange. We know how inconvenient this can be, so we can arrange special times for your online MIAM at the weekend or during the evening. This should give you some more flexibility to fit the appointment in at a time that suits your commitments. If early mornings are better for you, we can even arrange online appointments from 7am for people who have to start their day early.

Urgent online MIAM within just one hour (£180) BOOK NOW

Occasionally, court forms that need a MIAM certificate need completing urgently. Our express 1-hour service is ideal for these situations. We conduct your MIAM meeting online straight away. Immediately afterwards, we complete and sign the certificate and email it to you. You can then immediately proceed with your court application.

After you have had your MIAM, mediation session fees cost £130 per hour for each person. You pay either by bank transfer or card before the start of each mediation session.

Family mediation in Southampton

Southampton is a port city in Hampshire on the south coast of England, not far away from the New Forest. It is about 70 miles away from London. Southampton was made a city in 1964.

As at the 2011 census, the Southampton built-up area had a population of slightly over 253,000. Its combined population with its neighbouring city of Portsmouth makes them the sixth-largest built-up area in England.

Southampton has always been a port. The Pilgrim Fathers left from Southampton in 1620 on the Mayflower bound for America and, less successfully, the Titanic departed from Southampton in 1912 on her ill-fated maiden voyage when she was sunk after hitting an iceberg with the loss of more than 1,500 of the estimated 2,224 people on board. The docks have long been a major source of employment in the city and nowadays it is a major UK cruise ship port.

Southampton has two universities, the University of Southampton and Solent University. The total student population over the two universities is estimated at around 40,000.

Southampton is one of four cities short-listed for the award of UK City of Culture 2025. The winner is due to be announced in May 2022.

Direct Mediation Services

Direct Mediation Services is a trading name of The Intelligent Solutions Group Ltd. The company is registered in England and Wales.  Company Number 7760633. VAT registration number 334 8141 12. Our company’s registered address is 5 Carla Beck House, Carla Beck Lane, Carleton, Skipton, BD23 3BQ.

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