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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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What is mediation and do I have to do this?

Mediation is a process where two people discuss things they disagree about, for example arrangements for children following separation, with the help of a trained mediator. The aim is to find solutions to problems and reach agreement rather than asking the court having to decide. Mediation is not appropriate for everyone, including many women experiencing domestic violence.

If you apply to the family court for certain types of order (for example if you apply for a child arrangements order and financial orders in divorce) you must normally go to a family mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM) first to find out about whether mediation in your case.

A MIAM is a meeting in which a trained mediator explains to you how mediation works and the alternatives to it for resolving disputes and decides whether it is suitable in your case. You can you can attend the MIAM without the other party being present. If the mediator takes the view that mediation is not appropriate in your case, for example because you have been a victim of domestic violence, then they will sign a certificate saying this. You need to give this certificate to the court when you make your application for the order.

However, you don’t have to attend a MIAM in certain circumstances including if you can provide certain kinds of evidence that:

  • you are a victim of domestic violence or
  • there has been child abuse

but you will have to show this evidence to the court. You may also be exempt if your application is urgent.

For further information on mediation see Rights of Women’s Guide to Alternatives to the Family Court

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