Chris, who had been provisionally accredited since 2015, joins Elisabeth Howe and Maria Ramon as fully Accredited Family Mediators at Anthony Collins Solicitors, making them the largest family mediation team in Birmingham.

Although Accredited Family Mediators are in short supply in Birmingham, the increase in demand for mediation sees no sign of slowing down. In April 2014 it became compulsory for most prospective litigants to attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) – the first step in mediation – to see if issues were able to be resolved before going to court. Our 'Jaw, jaw not war, war' article highlighted Government findings that qualified lawyer mediators conducted, on average, 10 MIAMs and three full mediation sessions each month and that fewer cases go to court when people are aware of mediation.

Chris also commented on the benefits of having experience of being both a family solicitor and a mediator, allowing first-hand insight into the evolution of the family dispute resolution system in his article earlier this year 'The growth of family mediation and the benefits of mediators with a legal background'.

Increasing support for mediation is essential in helping people to make difficult decisions about their futures with someone who isn’t on either side. Maria commented, “Being able to conduct mediations allows us to help clients who are going through a difficult time, in a very different way than by going directly to court. Although there are still difficult conversations to have, as mediators we are a neutral party with the best interests of all parties in mind – including children, who will find their parents’ divorce or separation difficult. We're not here to take sides, but to ensure all options are explored before going through the traumatic experience of a court hearing”.

Elisabeth added, “With three accredited mediators at Anthony Collins Solicitors, we can share our experiences and continue to develop our skills. We will be able to offer more mediations and, hopefully, see the number of court hearings continue to come down”.

Also, Maria and Elisabeth can also speak to children directly during mediation if the need arises.  Such ‘child-inclusive mediation’ allows children to relay their views, via the mediator, in an unbiased and neutral way. This can help parties to reflect on the child’s views and come to a speedy and child focused conclusion.

Further information

For further information about our mediation services visit our website, or to discuss any family issues that could require legal advice, please contact Maria Ramon, Elisabeth Howe or Chris Lloyd-Smith.