Family Mediation Service
What is mediation?
Mediation is a free service to help couples in Ireland who have decided to separate or divorce, or who have already separated, to negotiate their own terms of agreement, while addressing the needs and interests of all involved. Mediation allows people to make their own decisions. Mediation is not marriage counselling or a legal advice service.
How can mediation help?
The Family Mediation Service encourages the separating couple to co-operate with each other in working out mutually acceptable arrangements on all or any of the following:
- Parenting the children
- Financial support
- Family home and property
- Other problems related to the separation
The role of the mediator is to:
- See a couple together and help them settle their differences.
- Create a climate in which neither party dominates but in which both parties participate fully in good faith.
- Create and maintain an atmosphere of co-operation and responsibility.
- Help couples deal with difficult emotional issues that can prevent them reaching agreement.
- Help couples reach agreement that they believe to be fair, equitable and workable.
How does the service operate?
A professionally trained mediator assists the couple to reach their own agreement.
- Both parties attend.
- Discussions are confidential.
- The mediator does not take sides.
For an appointment with the Family Mediation Service, both parties must contact the mediation service separately to book themselves in and confirm their willingness to attend.
How long does it take?
Mediation usually takes between 3 and 6 sessions. Each session lasts approximately one hour.
Most mediations end with a written document, sometimes referred to as a Note of Mediated Agreement, that sets out all the details of the couple's agreement. This is not a legal agreement, however, you can bring this document to a solicitor to be drawn into a legal contract or deed of separation. You may also use it as the basis for a decree of divorce.
What is a family session?
When a couple has reached an agreement, a session is offered to parents to invite their children in to discuss their new family arrangements.
What are the advantages of mediation?
- The Family Mediation Service is a confidential service.
- Each mediated agreement deals with the particular needs of the people involved.
- A balanced agreement is reached that is acceptable to both parties.
- Parents are helped to remain as partners in childrearing by developing parenting plans that are personal to each family.
This service is for married and non-married couples (including same-sex couples).
The Family Mediation Service is free.
How to apply
For an appointment, both parties must contact the service and confirm willingness to attend.
Where to apply
The Family Mediation Service is provided by the Legal Aid Board. You can find a list of Family Mediation Service offices, as well as information on the family Mediation Service on the Legal Aid Board's website. They also have a leaflet on the service.