What does a family mediator do?
Family mediators help clients find ways of communicating with each other and discussing issues constructively. They will always be impartial, so they would not tell people what to do, or give counselling or legal advice. However, they would provide factual information if required and could provide legal information if it helped people make an informed decision.
This type of work would involve:
- meeting clients jointly or separately to explain the mediation process and decide on the issues to discuss
- holding further meetings until issues are resolved
- listening to each client’s feelings and concerns
- getting details about clients’ financial circumstances
- discussing issues such as child residence and contact, property and money
- suggesting and discussing workable solutions
- helping clients to consider all options
- keeping discussions fair, equal and focused
- keeping accurate and confidential records of discussions
- summarising agreements in writing
- recognising when mediation is not working
- liaising with solicitors and courts when necessary
In some jobs, this role may also involve talking to children, or using mediation skills in other family conflict situations.
What do I need to do to become a family mediator?
You could move into family mediation after gaining experience in a number of different areas, including law, social work, counselling, therapy or education. Law qualifications are not essential, although some family law solicitors and legal executives choose to train and work as mediators.
Whatever your background, you will need to have paid or voluntary experience of working with families. This could be in settings such as child contact centres, family support centres and some counselling services.
Volunteering at a local community mediation service (helping to solve neighbour disputes) can also be useful experience, particularly for services that also offer opportunities for mediating in disputes between young people and their families.
To become a family mediator, you could either apply to a family mediation service for a trainee position, or fund your own training and find a placement with a service during or after your training.
To be accepted for family mediation training, you will normally need a higher education qualification or substantial relevant work experience. As part of the selection process, you will need to show that you have the right personal qualities and skills to be a family mediator.
Where to find out more
Where could I be working?
You would be based in an office at a local family mediation service or solicitors’ practice, and see clients by appointment.