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Family mediation is a voluntary process where an independent, professionally trained mediator helps separating couples find solutions to issue that arise as a result of divorce or separation. In this blog, Family Law Mediator Hazel Manktelow documents the top 10 benefits of mediation.
This has to be the main benefit of mediation for any separating family. Mediation gives you a safe space to talk about what is working well, any concerns or worries you have. In almost every mediation I have conducted we have worked on communication as that is what so often causes the blockage to reaching agreement.
You may be separating but if you have children together one of the best things you can do for them going forward is to have a reasonable co-parenting relationship. Mediation enables you to consider how you want to work together in the future. You are also able to return to mediation as the children get older and their needs change to enable you to adjust previously agreed arrangements.
Coming to mediation can initially feel difficult and alien. When couples understand how much more cost-effective mediation can be compared to the other process options available to resolve matters, following their separation it is a strong incentive for them to try it. The cost of mediation will vary as we won’t know how many mediation meetings you will require, but on average it takes place over 3 – 5 joint meetings of 90 minutes.
Mediation can take place as quickly or as slowly as you would like. You will each have an individual meeting after which a joint meeting will be set up if you are proceeding to mediation. You are likely to leave the joint meeting with some tasks to do or you may be trialling an arrangement for the children. We will set a date for the next joint meeting based upon how long you need to undertake the tasks or trial an arrangement for.
For children whose parents are separating there are often not many people having conversations with both Mum and Dad. Giving the children the opportunity to speak to someone about what life is like for them now their parents are separating is so important. The children have the opportunity to speak to someone who is impartial and is not taking sides during Child Inclusive Mediation.
At the beginning of each mediation meeting, you will get to set the agenda of what the key matters are that need to be discussed. In other legal processes, you may not always get the opportunity to do this. Mediation recognises that sometimes you need to talk about the impact of the separation upon you or allows you to discuss some of the smaller day to day decisions which there is not usually time for or is costly to deal with in some of the other legal processes.
I’ve already mentioned that the timing of mediation is set to suit your needs. The agenda is set on what you need to talk about as a family. The way mediation sessions is also flexible. We may sometimes use shuttle mediation, where the mediator moves between you and you do not meet your ex-partner. A lot of mediation is currently being run online by video calls. If it is right to do so, other family members may be invited to take part in the mediation. We may involve other professionals. There may be two mediators working with you. As long as the central rules for mediation are followed the rest of the process can be adapted to suit your needs.
This is such an important part of mediation. Mediators don’t know everything but will have a good source of professional contacts to refer you to. It may help you to meet with a financial adviser, a family consultant or a pension expert. By working with a variety of professionals you will often find you reach an agreement more swiftly.
Not only are there different ways in which mediation can be run, but there is also the option of hybrid mediation where your solicitors attend the mediation process with you. This can be extremely helpful where the assets are complex or where one party may feel they struggle to put their views across to their ex-partner.
You may feel that I am cheating to include communication twice but it is so central to what mediation that it needs to be mentioned more than once. If you can improve the way you communicate with your ex-partner then you are a long way forward in dealing with future disagreements which may arise.
Who wouldn’t want to try mediation with so many benefits to it? It can feel hard to open the door and start the mediation process but start just by having an initial conversation with a mediator and see how it can help you. Our team of experts are highly experienced in family mediation, please contact us to discuss your individual circumstances.