By Austin Chessell, Family Mediator and the Convener of the #ASM PLUS Family Team

Family Mediation works for people from all age groups and backgrounds

In recent weeks I have worked with separated teenage parents to find solutions for childcare arrangements.

I have mediated with a couple in their sixties who wanted to look at different situations based on who dies first, being able to provide for family members from their first marriage and how to plan for the future.

I have also worked directly with teenage children to find out their wishes and feelings for what they would like to happen from the separation. I then informed the parents the points that the children would like to be considered in mediation.

I have also mediated with a middle age family where one parent was looking to relocate outside of Europe. There were four children from the relationship whereby the parent wanted to see the children regularly during the school holidays as it was not possible for contact every week due to the relocation.


What are the benefits of Family Mediation?

Mediation tends to be quicker than going to court. For court hearings it can typically take 6-8 weeks to get a court date depending on the court listings. I am normally able to see clients within 7 days and then aim to meet with the clients as frequently as the clients want. Some clients I meet several times each week. Other mediation clients I meet weekly or monthly. Ideally you need time in between sessions to reflect on what was discussed.

Some clients come to me having litigated already, spending hundreds of thousands of pounds and are still not happen with the outcome. If the clients want to cover children and financial matters there are typically 3-5 joint sessions. The overall cost of mediation is a fraction of the cost that could be incurred on going to court.

You get to make the decisions together. If your matter goes to Court or Arbitration you are asking someone else to make the decisions for you. In mediation you both know what is important for you both and what is likely to work and what does not work. Mediation in most situations does require compromise but you are helping to shape the outcome together.

If you have children together how would you like them to look back on the divorce in the future? When we ask clients how they would like their children to describe the divorce they often answer child focused, amicable and being able to remain friends. Mediation is a lot more on the scale of looking at everyone’s interests rather than taking fixed positions which can happen in litigation.

When is Family Mediation not Suitable?

Recently I have encountered a such few situations: –

  • Where one client was under the influence of alcohol;
  • Where there was recent domestic violence and one client was scared to be in the same building as the other;
  • One client did not want to do a full financial disclosure;
  • Exceptionally, where the clients were not able to consider the perspectives of the other client or be willing to consider any form of compromise.

In these situations, it can be explained to the clients which other options the clients may want to consider compared to mediation.

Even in cases where mediation does not succeed, process will not be wasted. At the very least, people who may not have communicated with one another for months may find the process helps to break down a few barriers and, even if briefly, they get to hear one another’s views directly rather than through legal correspondence or third-party messages.

If you would like to attend Family Mediation to look to resolve Matrimonial, Children and Financial Matters which may have an international element do not hesitate to contact Austin Chessell at Albert Square Mediation.

The #ASM PLUS Family team offers mediation across the entire family law spectrum, family therapy and training. The team comprises the convener Austin Chessell, Steve Burchell, Joanne Byrne, Nicole Godetz and Paul Sandford. Austin also offers a family mediation supervision service. Our East Anglian office in Hadleigh, just outside Ipswich, is available for hire to other family mediators for individual mediation sessions. If you have a family related issue you would like to informally discuss, please telephone Paul on 07476 279307, email us on or visit our website at

Enquiries about hiring the Hadleigh office should be directed to our ASM PLUS East Anglia colleague, David King, who can be contacted on 07917 472726.