Written by Jane Robey

Jane Robey has been Chief Executive Officer of National Family Mediation (NFM) since 2004. Before becoming CEO she was a practicing accredited NFM family mediator, Professional Practice Consultant and NFM service manager. She trained as a family mediator in 1996. Jane qualified as a probation officer in 1984 and for 20 years worked in probation, family court welfare, Cafcass and in child protection social work.

National Family Mediation (NFM) is the largest provider of family mediation in England and Wales, and the only non-profit provider.  Established in the early 1980s, NFM created the concept of family mediation. We were the original provider. Over 30 years on our network of accredited services delivers in over 500 locations serving every part of England and Wales.

NFM provides a voluntary, confidential process helping people reach joint decisions without using court. We offer a safe, neutral place where couples no longer in a relationship can meet with a trained professional mediator to make sustainable plans for the future. This enables families to keep control of vital day-to-day arrangements for finance, property and children. It empowers parents to agree long-term solutions and agreements that are based on the unique circumstances of their family.

We offer a safe, neutral place where couples no longer in a relationship can meet with a trained professional mediator to make sustainable plans for the future.

The origins of National Family Mediation

NFM’s pioneers saw from first-hand experience the failures of the ‘traditional’ way of managing family breakdown. They witnessed how when both parents head to a solicitor for a courtroom battle over property, finance and children, it becomes long-winded, very expensive and confrontational.

At the end of the process the one person in the room who knows least about the family – the judge – simply hands down a settlement that’s rarely in anyone’s interests. As a result bitterness and resentment simmers for years. The impact of the conflict on children is particularly hard and long-lasting.

Putting children at the heart of the process

We know that parents who can work together after separation are 80% more likely to succeed in reducing the impact on their children, helping them maintain a relationship with both parents. And so it quickly became NFM’s avowed mission to “help parents who live apart stay close to their children”.

So in developing an alternative way of resolving post-divorce disputes, NFM evolved a model of working that puts the interests of children at the heart of the process and that could include childrens views and feelings about their changing family. NFM mediators work hard to understand and listen to concerns about children and other family members, and the effects on emotional well-being, academic progression and other factors. The aim of our mediators is to help parents find sustainable solutions that work for everyone.

Empowering people to make well-informed choices

Our mediators recognise that divorce represents one of the biggest crisis points in anyone’s life and that everyone struggles to come to terms – not just with the turn their life has taken, but also with what practical things they need to do to get things sorted. So NFM’s model of family mediation is based on empowering those involved. You do not need legal knowledge, money expertise, or personal confidence.

Proven success rates

Our experience shows that whilst participants are often unsure about getting involved, after just one mediation session confidence in the process blossoms. That’s not just because our mediators take time to ensure fears and emotions are acknowledged and expressed, and that nobody is rushed or made to feel their concerns are unimportant. It’s also because of our track record: our clients achieve full agreement in 83% of cases, a success rate that’s well above the national average.

Professional standards

A cornerstone of our success is our commitment to professional standards and delivery of professional services. NFM is also the field-leading, cutting edge provider of family mediation training. Our priority is the training of highly skilled practitioners who deliver a high quality service for the benefit of families affected by relationship breakdown.

Our commitment to professional standards extends to being a founding member of the Family Mediation Council, the regulator of family mediation practice.

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