What is Hybrid Mediation? - Family Law Partners

What is Hybrid Mediation?

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For many people going through a relationship breakdown and then having to sort out the finances or arrangements for the children with the person they are estranged from, can be difficult. If there has been controlling, coercive behaviour, emotional and or physical abuse in the relationship dealing with the emotional fallout, keeping safe and recovery for yourself and the family are probably your top priorities.

Financial and housing security are important and for couples in civil partnerships or marriages for any financial arrangement to be binding and final it has to be approved by the court.

Mediation has helped an increasing number of couples to reach an agreement about their finances and the arrangements for the children, without the trauma and costs of court proceedings. A family mediator will enable a couple to discuss and agree on issues in a safe and constructive way. Their agreement about financial matters can then be made into a financial consent order which is binding and provides certainty and security for both, while arrangements for children can be agreed or made into a parenting plan

Traditionally, mediation involved a couple having a series of meetings with their mediator. As these meetings were in-person family mediators use stringent safeguarding measures to ensure the physical, emotional safety and wellbeing of their mediation clients. Fast-forward to the onset of the covid restrictions and mediation having to adapt to being online which seems likely to continue. Mediators stringent safeguarding still applies – behaviour can still have an impact online but for many mediation clients not being in the same physical space has made mediation more convenient, comfortable and productive.

Mediation is voluntary. Understandably even online mediation, with safety provisions in place, is not a process someone who has been subjected to physical or emotional abuse may feel comfortable with.

So, for some, they delay or even forgo sorting out financial claims and the security of a financial court order. Others may feel that litigating is the only option as that process is carried out at arm’s length and with the support of your own solicitor to provide advice reassurance and support.

Step forward Hybrid Mediation.

Hybrid Mediation is the new way for couples following a break-up to sort out issues.

It’s well-named, using the tested mediation process to resolve commercial and diplomatic disputes with the addition of a mix of all the good elements of litigating, traditional mediation and solicitor negotiations but without their disadvantages.

  1. As with all mediation, it is client-led. You both remain in control of the discussions and the outcome, so any settlement is far more tailored to your wishes, needs and circumstances than a financial order imposed by the court.
  1. You stay apart from each other if Hybrid Mediation is in-person, in separate rooms. If online, you are each in your own virtual room. However, you have your own solicitor with you to provide support guidance and legal advice as required.
  1. The mediator moves between both of you you brokering agreement on points as they arise. You do not ‘confront’ your partner directly.
  2. The Hybrid Mediation sessions last either half or a full day promoting a maximum amount of time to propose the considered options. Many people are initially put off by the thought of longer meetings and having to pay their solicitors. However, because so much more ground can be covered in these longer sessions, especially as you have the immediate support of solicitors’ Hybrid Mediation can be quicker and much more cost-effective than traditional mediation.
  3. The process of Hybrid Mediation is simple, accessible and flexible. You can start immediately the Hybrid way or opt into it from traditional mediation. As with all problem-solving processes, it is most effective if key information is available. So, for example, just as with all other methods of resolution full up to date financial information (Form E) should be shared and available in your meetings.
  1. Hybrid Mediation can be used to constructively resolve cases from the straightforward to the most complex cases. Tax pensions or valuation experts can join the meetings to provide guidance and advice to you and your legal advisers, enabling you to access the outcomes that would work best. If there are issues with the children a family therapist can also be invited to the meeting.

Mediation isn’t for everyone but don’t rule it out.

If you are considering Hybrid Mediation if your relationship has broken down please contact us to discuss your own unique situation. It may provide you with the most constructive and cost-effective way to resolve financial and family problems.

Jayne Llewelyn is a Family Law Mediator, Solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer based in Winchester.

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