The Family Mediation Service is a free service run by the Family Support Agency.
It is a completely free service and provides mediation services to couples, both married and unmarried, who are separating or whose relationship has broken down.
Professional, trained mediators help the couple to negotiate their own agreement to deal with
- The family home and property issues
- The children
- Pensions and
- Any other issues that arise in a separation.
The accredited and professional mediator maintains a neutral position and does not take sides but seeks to help the couple to reach agreement for separation.
In order to avail of the service it is important that both parties are agreeable and contact the mediation service separately.
Generally a session will last for around 1 hour and there will be 3 to 6 sessions in the mediation. Ultimately a good outcome is to arrive at a written agreement concerning all of the issues which can then be brought to a solicitor who can draft a legally binding separation agreement.
Mediation is completely confidential and there are a number of full time and part time offices around the country.
Take a look at the legal aid board site to see where these are located and learn more about the mediation service.
The Family Mediation service publish a number of very helpful booklets which you can access on their website above which deal with many of the important issues of separation such as
- Financial matters
- Parenting plans.
It is a statutory requirement (Judicial Separation and Family Law Reform Act, 1989, sect. 5 and 6) for a solicitor to advise couples who are separating and who wish to apply for a Judicial Separation to
- Discuss reconciliation and
- Discuss mediation and
- Coming to a negotiated settlement by way of a separation agreement or deed.
The Family Mediation Service, as well as being professional and free, can have the additional benefit of reducing your legal costs when it does come to having a separation agreement drafted or when seeking a Judicial Separation or divorce.
Being able to present to a solicitor with many of the major issues agreed can make life easier and more cost effective for all concerned.
By Terry Gorry