Family Mediation

Making Arrangements After Separation or Divorce

What is family mediation?

Family mediation is a voluntary process which gives parents who are separating or living apart the opportunity to make their own arrangements for their children's future. Reaching agreement through mediation can avoid painful and lengthy legal battles.

What is it for?

The aim of mediation is to improve communication, reduce conflict and to agree on practical, workable arrangements for the future, taking into account children’s views, needs and feelings. Our focus is on putting children’s needs first and making separation less stressful for everyone.

Although mediation is primarily for couples whose relationship is over, it’s for all sorts of families – married or unmarried, divorced, separated or never having lived together, younger or older – and for anyone in your family. Parents, grandparents, step-parents,other significant adults, children and young people can all participate in family mediation.

When can you come?

Whether you have never lived together, are considering separating, recently separated or have been apart for some time, family mediation can help you negotiate or re-negotiate arrangements for your children.

How does it work?

First you will be offered an individual confidential meeting where you can exchange information and consider a range of choices. If family mediation is appropriate and your chosen option, a mediator will then see you together, usually for a number of sessions. Problems are identified and possible solutions explored. The aim is to achieve practical, workable arrangements which are acceptable both to you and your children, taking into account your children's views, needs and feelings.

How can it help?

Family mediation helps you plan the future. It offers you the service of mediators who listen to, and work with, both of you. The aim is to reach agreement about the arrangements to be made especially for the future care of your children. Mediators will not take sides in a dispute and they will not make decisions for you.

Who are the mediators?

Family mediators are trained professionals who have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the complexity of family life and of separation, divorce and family restructuring.  All our mediators work to professional standards and go through an annual renewal process to demonstrate that they have met the required standards of practice, supervision and Continuing Professional Development. 

Other Services

Some family mediation services can also offer mediation on future financial arrangements and on the sharing of property and assets. Additional services provided may include contact centres, and group and individual work with children and young people. Check with your local service to see what is available in your area.

Is it confidential?

People can talk freely and frankly in mediation. What occurs during family mediation cannot be used in civil proceedings unless both parties want it to be or if there are issues regarding children’s safety or criminal activities.

Mediators are bound by a duty of confidentiality, unless circumstances suggest that the issues being discussed may pose a risk to clients or the wider community.  Such issues include domestic abuse, child protection, money laundering and terrorism.  In all circumstances, care is taken to protect confidentiality and no disclosure will be made without discussing the issues first, unless there is an urgent risk of harm.

Is there a charge?

All of our local services are independent charities.  Family mediation may be provided free, or at a low cost dependent on income. Some services provide mediation on financial and property matters and will charge for this.  Other services may incur a small charge.

What about the courts?

In Scotland the courts will not become involved in the decisions families make following a separation unless they are asked.  Mediation can help you to make decisions about children without going to court.  However if you do go to court even at that stage the sheriff may refer you to your local family mediation service.


  • Family Mediation Borders
    01721 724170
  • Family Mediation Central Scotland
    01786 472984
  • Relationships Scotland
    01387 251245
  • Family Mediation Grampian:
    Aberdeen - 01224 630050 
    Elgin - 01343 540801
    North Aberdeenshire - 01779 490790
  • Family Mediation Highland
    01463 712100
  • Family Mediation Lothian
    0131 226 4507
  • Family Mediation Orkney
    01856 877750
  • Family Mediation Shetland
    01595 744449
  • Family Mediation Tayside and Fife
    01382 201343
  • Family Mediation West
    Glasgow - 01413 322731
    Kilmarnock - 01563 572429
  • Family Mediation Western Isles
    01851 705600

(* NCH Action for Children project)

Relationships Scotland
18 York Place

Tel.: 0345 119 2020