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Family Mediation Service

What is family mediation?

> Family mediation is a service to help married and non-married couples who have decided to separate or divorce, or who have already separated.

It is also a service for parents who have never lived together but have a child between them and need to agree parenting arrangements.

> In certain circumstances, mediation can also assist in disputes within families. E.g. siblings and care for elderly parents, mother-in-law/son-in-law, grandparents

> Clients are helped by a mediator to negotiate their own terms of agreement, taking into account the needs and interests of all involved.

> Mediation is not marriage counselling or a legal advice service.

> Mediation allows people to make their own decisions and hold onto their own power.

> The Family Mediation Service is a state-run service staffed by professionally trained and accredited mediators.

> The service is currently free.

> There are currently 16 offices located around the country: 4 full-time, 12 part-time. For information on opening times and locations please click on this link to contact us.

How can mediation help?

The Family Mediation Service (FMS) 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 & property
> Pensions
> Other issues related to the separation

What is the mediator's role?

> To see both clients/parties together and look at issues to be discussed and agreed.
> To create a climate in which neither party dominates but in which both parties participate fully in good faith.
> To create and maintain an atmosphere of co-operation and responsibility.
> To help both clients/parties deal with difficult emotional issues that can prevent them reaching agreement.
> To help both clients/parties reach agreement that they both find acceptable

How does the service operate?

A professionally trained Mediator assists the clients to reach their own agreement.

1. Both parties attend.
2. Discussions are confidential.
3. The Mediator does not take sides.

For an appointment both parties must contact the service independently and confirm that they are willing to attend.

How long does it take?

Mediation usually takes between three and six sessions. Each session lasts approximately one hour.


Most mediations end with a written document that sets out all the details of the couple's/parties agreement.

This can then be taken to solicitors to be drawn into a Legal Contract and/or used as the basis for a Court order.

What is a family session?

When a couple have reached agreement, a session is offered to parents with children to discuss their new family arrangements in an encouraging and positive way with the mediator.

Child Consultation: Direct consultation with any children involved may be offered when appropriate.

What are the advantages of mediation?

> It is a confidential service.
> A balanced agreement is reached that is acceptable to the parties.
> Decisions taken together are more likely to be honoured.
> It promotes communication and co-operation, reducing bitterness and distress.
> Parents are helped to remain as partners in childrearing by developing parenting plans that suit their particular circumstances.
> Parents are helped to manage conflict in a way that protects the best interests of their children.
> The service is currently FREE.

How do I get an appointment for mediation?

1. Click here to access the list of Family Mediation Service offices.

2. Phone or email to express your interest in attending mediation, indicating the office which suits you best.

3. We will ask you to provide your contact details in order to open a new file.

4. The second party needs to contact the same office as well, to confirm his/her interest in attending mediation.

5. In some circumstances there may be communication difficulties between the parties. In this situation the office can, at your request, send a letter to the other party letting them know you have registered and inviting them to contact us for further information about the service.

6. Once both of you have confirmed that you are interested, your case will be transferred to the waiting list.

7. We will inform you (by letter or phone) about the date of your appointment.
(Please note that FMS have no child-minding facilities and therefore no children under 14 years should be brought into the FMS offices)

It is strict FMS policy that children, however young, will not be admitted to a mediation session except for a pre-arranged family session or a direct consultation with children session.

Click to read or download the Family Mediation Service Information Booklet