Frequently Asked Questions

See our Frequently Asked Questions below. If you can’t find an answer you are looking for, please get in touch.

Common Misunderstandings

Being divorced means you are free from each other financially.

This is not true. Unless you have reached a financial agreement AND put that into a court order (which can be done via consent), you still have potential claims against each other’s assets. Divorce ONLY dissolves the legal marriage.

Only assets in joint names, accumulated during the marriage will be divided.
This is not true. Both spouses have potential claims against all assets, whenever and however they were obtained. This does not mean that all assets WILL be divided or that they will all be shared equally, but it does mean they all need to be considered as a starting point and they COULD be divided. This includes a house you owned before you met that is in your name only; it includes lottery winnings that happened after you split up; it includes pensions.
I worked the most and paid for everything, therefore I will get everything.
This is usually not true. Contributions such as raising children are given equal weight and things like how long you were married and how you lived WHILE married are taken into account. Usually the matrimonial assets will be divided in some way regardless of who actually paid for them.
There is a “standard” approach to settling finances.
This is not true. The law is very flexible and you can be very flexible when it comes to deciding what you will do and how you will do it. Mediators can help you identify and assess your options to maximise the chances of you doing what works best for everyone.
I won’t have to show my ex all of my financial details.
This is not true. There is no way to enter a binding and final financial settlement without full disclosure.
As I no longer live in the house, I don’t have to pay the mortgage.
This is not true. If you are named on the mortgage you are legally responsible for paying it. However, if you cannot live in the property, your ex may owe you “occupation rent”. It is a complicated situation which mediators can help you work through.
If I don’t want or agree to a divorce, then it can’t happen.

This is not true. Under some circumstances you may slow the process down a bit, but your ex will eventually be able to divorce you without your agreement, or even your acknowledgment. It is always better to try and make the divorce as amicable as possible.

If my ex has behaved “badly” in the marriage they will have to pay me more.
This is not true. Things like cheating, lying, being horrible to you, not earning any money etc. are not considered in terms of financial settlement. Usually only financial misconduct, such as stealing family money, would change the financial outcome.
We have lived together for years, so are “common law” man / wife.
This is not true. Living together, even for decades, does not automatically give you rights against each other. There is no such thing as Common Law spouses.
If I am not getting child maintenance, I can stop my ex seeing the children.
This is not true. Although parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children, they do not have to pay to see them. The children have a right to see both their parents, and their rights are prioritised.
The children live with me, so I can make all the decisions about them on my own.
This is not true. Any parent with Parental Responsibility has the legal responsibility and right to be involved in life decisions regarding their children.
The children always live with their mother.
This is not true. The children generally live with the person that was their primary carer, because the court wants to minimise disruption to them. Whilst this is still the mother more often the father, it is not always the case. As child care becomes more generally shared, so courts are more and more often opting for “shared care” arrangements.
“Normally” the children see a non-resident parent every other weekend.
This is not true. There are no “standard” arrangements that are always applied. It is generally best for parents to work out the best options available for their own specific circumstances. It is always a compromise as it not possible for both parents to have the children 100% of the time.
I can stop my ex introducing their partner to the children.
This is not true. Anyone with parental responsibility can decide who they introduce their children to. Only a court can prevent that, and they would only do that if the person posed a demonstrable risk to the child. The fact that the other parent does not know the person is not enough.
What is ‘Family Mediation’?

Family mediation is the most amicable way of resolving issues arising from a Divorce and / or a family breakdown. It is something that you do, rather than the court process which is “done” to you. Clients have the assistance of a professional mediator, who is fully trained and qualified in the issues you are facing and who will help you identify and assess options.

What issues can family mediation help with?
  • Division of property, pensions and finances.
  • Child arrangements such as contact, residency, holidays, special events, child support maintenance and parental responsibility.
  • Extended family arrangements.
Is family mediation the same as marriage counselling?

No. Family mediation is not the same as marriage counselling, or marriage guidance. Family mediation is about discussing the practicalities of separating.


If parties are not certain that their relationship or marriage has broken down then mediation could be used to discuss and agree interim arrangements, while you try to reconcile your marriage in marriage counselling.

Does family mediation really work?

In the majority of cases, parties willing to participate in the mediation process reach agreement on most, if not all, matters in dispute. Using data from the Voucher Scheme, the Ministry of Justice recently confirmed that a whole or partial agreement was reached in two-thirds of cases under the scheme.

What are the benefits of family mediation?

The main benefits of family mediation are :-

  • It is a far quicker, cheaper and more impartial way of dealing with issues than going through legal channels.
  • It empowers both parties to make informed choices about their future lives and those of their children.
  • It can help establish functional communication and help rebuild lost trust.
  • It is a more amicable way of resolving issues than involving courts or solicitors.
  • It will take into account the needs and wishes of any children.
  • It enables both parties to remain in control of decisions about any children, property and finances.
  • It is a completely confidential process (subject to child safety concerns).
  • Any agreement reached in mediation can be made legally binding.
  • It offers a formal but relaxed atmosphere in which children’s voices may be heard.
Is family mediation compulsory? Do I have to mediate?
Mediation is completely voluntary; however, if you wish to go to Court, you must first attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) with a qualified, accredited Family Mediator.
What is a MIAM?

MIAM stands for Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting.


During the MIAM the Mediator will meet with each party separately to explain the mediation process and ask you questions to gain an understanding of your situation.


The mediator will carry out a Domestic Violence Screening and will work with you to identify whether mediation is suitable.

Is mediation cheaper than involving solicitors?
Yes, instructing a solicitor and going to court is on average 400% more expensive than the average cost of mediation.
Will I have to pay for mediation?
Before you mediate, you will attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), during which time the Mediator will assess you and the other party’s eligibility for public funding (Legal Aid). If you are assessed as being ‘not eligible’ then you will be charged for the assessment meeting. If you then wish to proceed to mediation and are not eligible for Legal Aid, you will need to pay for your mediation meetings.
How many mediation sessions will I need to attend?

Every family has different needs and expectations, so it does depend on each case as to how many sessions are needed. The average number of mediation sessions to complete a full parenting plan is 2 or 3. The average number of sessions for property and finance, where a full financial disclosure and settlement is required, is between 2 and 4 sessions. However, the number of sessions may vary depending on:-

  • The parties’ commitment to attend mediation.
  • The parties’ openness and their willingness to continue to fully participate and communicate during the sessions.
  • The parties’ ability to provide timely information and supply supporting evidence when required to do so by the Mediator.
  • The type and the complexity of the individual circumstances and issues surrounding the case.
  • The number of assets to be d
How long is each mediation session?

Each mediation session is scheduled for 1.5 hours but may last for up to 2 hours.


If you choose to have shuttle mediation sessions, these are booked in for two hours.

Can children also take part in the mediation process?

The feelings and emotions of any child of the family will play an important part of the mediation discussions between both parties, whether it is the parents or the grandparents that are involved in the dispute. If the participants and the Mediator feel that it would be beneficial for the child(ren) to be involved in the process then it can be arranged for a Child Inclusive Mediator to speak directly with the child(ren) without the parents being present. However, this would only be possible if both the parents and the child(ren) give their consent for this to happen.

Can I bring a friend, a relative or children to the mediation session with me?

If you would feel more comfortable having someone with you in the MIAM, then it is fine to bring them with you. However, it is not normally permissible to bring anybody else to the mediation session with you, other than in exceptional circumstances.

Call us for a FREE discussion on how SFMS can help: