Over recent years most clients have become aware of family mediation and know that it involves a negotiation between two individuals with the assistance of a third party. However, there are a number of misconceptions about how the process works and what it involves. 

I have to sit in a room with my former partner. 

The mediation process can be adapted to ensure that both parties feel safe and comfortable to participate. While some people may be happy to engage in discussions directly with their former partner face to face in the same room, for others this is more challenging. Some participants prefer to meet online so that they are not physically present in the same place.  Whilst others prefer to mediate in separate rooms (in a process known as shuttle mediation) where the mediator facilitates discussions by passing between the participants.  Mediators often agree to stagger arrival and departure times so that participants to not have to meet each other in reception if physically attending sessions.  For mediation to be successful and productive both participates need to feel safe and comfortable to participate. Prior to any joint sessions taking place the mediator will meet individually with each participant to discuss issues that they each wish to raise and consider how mediation can be made safe and suitable for everybody concerned.

Mediation is not appropriate for high conflict cases. 

The presence of significant conflict doesn’t preclude mediation from taking place. Mediation can be structured to provide a safe and neutral environment to find solutions to the issues. As above, it can take place without participates having to physically meet if they don’t wish to do so.  The mediation model can also be adapted to suit the respective needs of the participants. For example, the hybrid model of mediation enables the participants to be supported by their lawyers or other professionals throughout the process to address any power imbalances between them.  

Mediation cannot be used for complex financial cases 

Many family mediators also practice as lawyers and so are used to dealing with and managing financial information. The process can also be adapted to include other professionals such as financial advisors, accountants and pensions experts as required to help facilitate the discussions. Because the discussions and mediation take place on a confidential (without prejudice) basis it enables couples to really consider and explore all options available to them without fear that they may prejudice their position if the matter were to go to Court. 

I do not need to provide financial disclosure if I attend mediation. 

In financial mediations couples are making choices about how they’ll share their assets. They can only successfully make these choices if they’re confident they each fully understand the resources available to them. Disclosure is therefore a very important part of mediation and couples are required to exchange information and may ask to see such supporting documents they require in order to build a full picture of each others financial positions.  Participants also have the opportunity to consult their solicitors and any other financial experts they may wish during the process in order to resolve issues that arise such as for example the sharing of pensions or the value of business assets.  

I cannot mediate if Court Proceedings have been issued. 

Court Proceedings and mediation are not mutually exclusive. It’s often the case that couples choose to enter mediation in between Court hearings. Some Courts are taking in excess of six months to list hearings and so it’s quite common for couples to try mediation to see if they can reach a resolution in between hearings.  If proposals are made which they are both satisfied with, the Court Proceedings can be brought to an end by way of a Consent Order. This is a significantly cheaper and faster resolution for all involved.  

We offer a free 30-minute call to anyone who wishes to learn more about mediation and how it can help your family. If you’d like to learn more about our family law and mediation services, then please get in touch either online or by calling 0370 1500 100.