Who are Family Mediation Ireland?

Family Mediation Ireland is a private client mediation service based in the Republic of Ireland. The service operates on a nationwide basis. FMI primarily use the comediation model for concluding mediations.

FMI was originally founded by Eoin Cullina and Sabine Walsh in 2009.

The practice was taken over by Caroline Holmes in 2013. Caroline is an experienced mediator and mediation trainer having worked in family, civil and commercial and community mediations.

Family Mediation Ireland ® is a registered trademark within the Republic of Ireland.

Family Mediation Ireland regularly attend and speak at CPD training events and mediation conferences.

Legal Services Bill 2011

Many mediators are presently looking at the implications of the proposed Legal Services Bill which will be published shortly.

It appears likely that the bill if subsequently enacted, will have substantial and dramatic consequences for the way lawyers do business in Ireland.

The question remains to be seen as to what impact, if any, the proposed legislation will have on the work of mediators, many of whom are also lawyers. The president of the Law Society of Ireland today outlined in an e-mail to practitioners the small level of consultation the Society have enjoyed with the Department of Justice in the lead up to the publication of the bill.

Many will argue that in the present recession Barristers are been treated unfairly, as they cannot solicit clients directly and are reliant for the greater part on Solicitors who pass on the work. As the recession deepened, less and less cases were been referred to counsel, who were in some cases seen by solicitors as an additional or surplus cost in cases. The mediation services bill will level the playing field somewhat and allow Barristers similar access to clients as solicitors.

By contrast, mediation has offered lawyers, both Barristers and Solicitors alike a chance to experience how the legal dispute resolution system may work going forward. Firstly costs in mediation are set against scales (usually time rated). Secondly, parity of billing. In cases of comediation both Solicitors and Barristers are paid the same fee.

In many ways, the legal system can learn from private client mediation practice as to how client billing will work going forward.

Wishing Everyone a Happy 2012

With the advent of the currency crisis couples and families alike a having to get much more creative about debt management.

With the onset of the Euro crisis and the Global Market turbulence in general people are having to devise new ways to save costs. Mediation is the most cost-effective means of dealing with dispute. The cost of conflict in organisations is a major unaccounted for cost on the company balance sheet. The same applies to families. Conflict invariably causes further costs for families in the same way that conflict burdens businesses.

Mediation is cost effective in several ways;

Time Efficient – No delay in going to mediation
Promotes better communication structures
Encourages open dialogue
Provides bespoke solutions to the parties in dispute

2012 will hopefully see the introduction of the Mediation and Conciliation Act which will give further impetus to the introduction of mediation into our courts system.

The Mediation Bill 2012

Family Mediation Ireland have been invited by the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality, to be briefed on and discuss the Heads of the proposed Mediation Bill.

When passed the Mediation Bill will provide a dramatic change to the laws in this jurisdiction relating to mediation.

Whilst it remains to be seen as to whether or not the draft legislation will be amended to include a requirement for mandatory mediation sessions for parties considering accessing the courts, the legislation has been widely welcomed nonetheless.


The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality published their Report on hearings into the Scheme of the Mediation Bill on 21 June 2012 last. The report makes various suggestions to the legislature in Ireland based upon public hearings conducted with the main mediation service providers within the state.

One of the key targets of the report was the issue of raising awareness of mediation. The legislation aims to encourage the use of mediation as an alternative to contested legal disputes. The question arises as to whether or not a statutory duty should be placed upon prospective litigants to attend one mediation session prior to seeking the issue of proceedings.

Issues Such As:

The Regulation of Mediators
Codes of Conduct
A national Register for Mediators
Confidentiality and Ireland as an international hub for mediation were also discussed in the report.

The report also encompassed the submissions made by the various interested organisations including Family Mediation Ireland.

Mediation Conference Loughbourough University

Family Mediation Ireland attended a Mediation Conference at Loughbourough University in the UK.

The conference featured sections on the initiation of the mediation process. The day featured sections examining transcripts of phone conversations to mediation service providers in the UK. Representatives from England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales attended the event.

The event featured feedback from both community mediation and family mediation service providers.

The attendees discussed the formation of a national mediation body in the UK. To this end an on-line discussion forum has been established to promote further discussion in the area between service providers.

Team GB were also preparing on campus for the Olympics and accordingly security was tight for attendees. The University hope to establish the meeting as an annual national mediation event going forward.

How Long Does Mediation Take?

Each mediation is unique. Different mediations will require different time-frames to complete. For many couples going through a separation/divorce, where a substantial amount of issues need to be resolved, the average process can take seven to nine joint sessions to conclude. The average session will last for an hour and a half in length.

Where only one issue such as access or maintenance needs to be resolved on it’s own, the process can take five joint sessions on average to conclude.

Depending on how much work the parties need to complete the process can take from several weeks to several months. The parties dictate the frequency of the sessions required to complete the work in as efficient a manner as is possible.

Parties are encouraged to take breaks between sessions and either party can call a time-out at any point in the process to take a break.

Mediations can be completed in one day or over several days depending on the number of issues that need to be addressed. For Divorce and separation cases many couples will book two days back to back at the start of the mediation process.

The Chart Below Shows How the Process is Structured in Comediation where two mediators are working with the couple;

  • Agree Mediation

At the beginning of the process, one or other party contacts FMI to find out about the process. The contacting party will ask the other party to contact FMI to find out about mediation.

  • Information Session

Where both parties are in agreement FMI set up an information session for the couple to find out about the process. After the information session, the parties can sign the “Agreement to Mediate” and enter the process.

  • Single Sessions

Each party will get a chance on their own and in the absence of the other party to meet with the mediators in private to discuss matters before going into any joint sessions with the other party and the mediators.

  • Joint Sessions

The vast majority of mediations are conducted with both parties and the mediators present at the same time. However, on occasion after the commencement of joint sessions either the mediators or the parties can elect for further single sessions depending on the circumstances.

  • Agreement

When the process is concluded and the parties have reached an understanding they will have an opportunity to take advice from their advisors before completing the “Memorandum of Understanding” or mediated agreement. This is not a legally binding document but can be made legally binding through the parties legal advisors.

How Does Family Mediation Work in Practice?

Many people ask us how does family mediation physically work in practice? Some people start out under the false assumption that the process is somewhat like counselling.

When it comes to family mediation services, Ireland has both public and private client options available.

Mediation is a dispute resolution process. It helps people to resolve their issues without having to go into a contested court case.

Mediation can be used to resolve issues regarding child custody, child access, guardianship, divorce, legal separation, sibling disputes, child maintenance, spousal maintenance, and disputes regarding inheritances amongst other matters.

Mediations can either take place with everyone in the same room, or the two sides to the dispute in two separate rooms. The mediators will either work with both parties present or work between the two rooms.

How long does mediation take? That depends on what needs to be resolved. In practice, most family disputes take on average five to seven sessions to conclude. The sessions can last upwards of an hour and a half. Generally, no longer than that.

The mediators examine the dispute between the two sides and strip it down to it’s bare bones. They then examine how the dispute escalated. In doing so they have regard for all the different components of a dispute. The power balance between the parties, communication issues, gender issues, financial components, interests and positions and persuasiveness. Having regard to all the various components to a dispute the mediators lead the parties into a path of communication that leads them towards the resolution of the dispute.

We use the co-mediation method which uses a male and female mediator in each scenario. We find that two mediators provide better gender balance.

In the majority of cases, when we commence mediations, there is a lot of repair work to be conducted on the communications front. In disputes, people have a tendency to issue the other side with ultimatums. We teach people to switch off “the language of threats” and to revert into a problem-solving stance. The tools we teach people in mediation serve them well in other types of disputes they encounter in life.

In entering the process the mediators ask parties to examine their needs and wants. They ask the parties to reflect on what outcome they would like to see to the process. More importantly, they ask people to consider alternatives that might resolve the dispute.

The process starts with both sides getting a chance to read a short opening statement to the other side. Generally, its only a few lines in length. It can be as long as the parties like. It is not an opportunity to take pot-shots at the other side. We find in family mediations that parties use this as an opportunity to tell the other side why they are really here and what they hope to achieve. Parties generally reflect at this time on their desire for resolution for themselves and any children that might be involved.

The earlier part of divorce or separation mediations generally deals with the financial aspects of the dispute. Both sides make a financial declaration to each other in the financial summary document. The mediators assist the parties in organising their paperwork. Generally, this involves recent wage slips, P60’s, annual accounts, bank statements, credit card statements and any other documents used to vouch your financial circumstances. On average this can take two sessions.

The information and research gained from this part of the process will assist parties at the later stages of the mediation when we discuss future financial arrangements. Parties generally find this part of the process useful as it allows people to do some homework on their daily spend on bills such as groceries, utilities and clothing. Often people are shocked by the results as to how much they are spending. This is commonplace for the vast majority of families in Ireland today.

For further information why not check out the youtube videos.

Mediation – A different way of resolving disputes.

Mediation can be used in many different types of disputes, not just family law problems.

This can be seen from practice in Ireland and the growing body of legislation that recognises the need for an alternative way of resolving disputes in this jurisdiction. Some of the areas in which methods of alternative dispute resolution are now being used are the following: Many commercial disputes are being resolved in this way, for example, contract disputes, disputes arising out of insolvency, franchising disputes, and, by virtue of the EU Directive on Certain Aspects of Mediation in Civil and Commercial Matters, which will become law in Ireland shortly, even international commercial disputes.

The Commercial Court often directs that parties attempt mediation before proceeding with a commercial case. Over two-thirds of these referrals are said to result in agreement, which represents a substantial cost and time saving to the parties concerned. Also, a resolution of this kind, where all parties have participated in finding a solution to the problem, will go a long way towards preserving ongoing business and professional relationships.

Private disputes can also be resolved in this way. Landlord and tenant, and other types of disputes related to property, such as right of way cases, adverse possession cases, and trespass cases for example, can be solved these methods. Similarly, employment disputes are often referred to alternative dispute resolution, both under equality legislation and by the Rights Commissioner and Employment Appeals Tribunal.

A new area for alternative dispute resolution is that relating to schools. Mediation is increasingly used to solve disputes between teachers, students, parents and Boards of Management, and furthermore, a number of schools in Ireland are currently participating is restorative practices training, which teaches the students and staff the techniques of dispute prevention and resolution. A number of pieces of legislation, in addition to those already in existence in the family law area, have enshrined the role of alternative dispute resolution in recent years.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2004, landlord and tenant disputes can now be resolved in this way. Similarly, under the Equality Act 2004, the Disability Act 2004 and the Medical Practitioners Act 2007, parties to disputes under these Acts can be directed to attempt alternative dispute resolution. One of the newer pieces of legislation in this area is the Enforcement of Court Orders Act 2009, which gives the judge the right to direct parties into alternative dispute resolution before a court case can proceed. The Multi-Unit Developments Bill, 2009, which applies to apartment buildings and some housing estates, also has similar provisions. Further legislation is currently being drafted, which is likely to make this method of resolving disputes applicable to many more disputes.

To return to the area of family law, Family Mediation Ireland can also assist you in such difficult disputes as those that might arise out of an inheritance situation, where beneficiaries are aggrieved, or children have taken an action under section 117 of the Succession Act 1965, on the basis that they were not adequately provided for.

A new area of family relationships that we work in is that of elder mediation, whereby we assist families in making short and long-term care decisions for the elderly, in consultation with all the relevant family members, including the older person themselves. Alternative dispute resolution has been shown to be extremely successful in this area and, as in so many other disputes, preserves and enhances the relationships between all those concerned. For more information on our services in relation to any of the areas discussed above please visit the contact us section of our website.

Family Mediation Ireland

Family Mediation Ireland is a private client mediation service. We are focused on providing clients with a cost-effective alternative to protracted and costly family law litigation. The service operates primarily in the western and mid-western counties of Sligo, Mayo, Galway and Clare. Appointments with our mediators can be arranged nationwide. Both public and private client family mediation services have evolved substantially over the last ten years with the advent of divorce in Ireland.

Family Mediation Ireland is run by Mediators who are substantially experienced in the area of family mediation.

If you are involved in a family dispute with a spouse, family member or former partner covering any of the following issues, why not go to Mediation as a cost-effective alternative to court;-

  • Judicial Separation.
  • Separation Agreements.
  • The division of matrimonial assets.
  • Maintenance/Child support.
  • Access and living arrangements for children.
  • Travel arrangements and passport arrangements for children.
  • Guardianship/Custody.
  • Schooling Issues.
  • Holiday arrangements.
  • Disputes involving grandparents, aunts, uncles.
  • Inter-sibling disputes.

Other types of dispute outside of family mediation can be dealt with to include neighbour disputes, property disputes, financial disputes, landlord-tenant disputes and employment disputes.

If you are worried about entering into protracted and costly family law litigation in the courts, why not try mediation as an alternative? With the end of a relationship or a marriage, mediation can offer both parties new opportunities.

In respect of divorce and judicial separation in Ireland, the legislature has granted jurisdiction to the Courts to deal with applications in these areas. The only bodies entitled under the law to grant a judicial separation or a divorce are the courts of appropriate jurisdiction. Outside of the litigation system, the courts encourage parties to attend family mediation as an alternative means of dispute resolution.