Research shows that family mediation services can be a very effective way for families to resolve conflicts. It is proven to be faster, less costly and – crucially – less adversarial than divorcing through the courts.
To support Family Mediation week, running between 20th and 25th January 2020, our two specialist mediation solicitors, Christine Plews and Flora Grossman, are highlighting five of the key pillars of mediation, releasing one pillar each day.
Couples going through family mediation often have difficulty in communicating with one another. The family mediator needs to help them with this by being a good communicator themselves as well as good listeners. They need to listen sensitively to both what is said as much as what is unsaid. The mediator gathers responses from the participants and organises their communications in a more manageable way. This enables the participants to actively listen to new ways of expressing their difficulties rather than prompting them to repeat well-worn arguments or areas of disagreement which are a barrier to resolution. Mediation can help couples who don’t communicate very well, take a more balanced view and discuss aspects with greater empathy.
In mediation people expect there to be a sharing of financial information and, indeed, it is essential for there to be full and frank disclosure if the participants are to have confidence in the process. It is the foundation of any viable proposal and enables it to be made into a Consent Order which can be approved by the court. Thereby avoiding the court process. However, there is another element of sharing: a shared commitment. Mediation is attended on a voluntary basis and in the Agreement to mediate we ask both participants to commit fully to the family mediation process and co-operate as fully as possible in looking for solutions. There aren’t any statistics available on how many mediations are successful, but we know from experience that if couples are open, honest and share, it is much more likely to reach an outcome both parties are happy with.
If mediation is going to be successful there has to be a willingness and an ability on the part of both participants to negotiate. Both parties have to be able to interact with one another and communicate effectively to allow themselves to begin to shift from what can sometimes be entrenched positions to hopefully reach a beneficial outcome for both of them. The family mediator can facilitate this by allowing the parties to move forward towards such a solution whilst at the same time allowing the parties to feel in control of any agreement they come to. Negation, rather than a court enforced judgement, often provides an agreement that even if both parties have had to give and take over, has at least been decided between them.
Most people (but not all) come to mediation because they want a problem to be solved. This generally requires action, even if it is talking, because there needs to be a journey from a problem to a solution. In order to resolve something in mediation there has to be a willingness on the part of both participants to actively search for a solution that is often not apparent to either of them at the start of the process. The solution to something difficult and unmanageable, often emerges as a consequence of the family mediation process as it transforms the problem into something less difficult and manageable which the participants can accept.
A successful meditation should allow the parties to feel a sense of resolution and therefore marks an end to searching for a solution which can often be deeply unsettling. It signifies the parties coming to terms with the issues and possibly upset, that each of them will have had, arising from the breakdown of their relationship. It hopefully allows them to begin a new and positive chapter in their lives.
How family mediation can help you
Family mediation can help a couple take control of their family’s future, making constructive decisions together rather than asking someone else to decide what should happen to their children or finances. If you would like to try mediation, please contact Blake Morgan. Our family mediation service is run by two specialist solicitors who have 50 years of family law experience between them. Our solicitor in Oxford, Christine Plews, is accredited with the Family Mediation Council and holds a postgraduate certificate (OXON) in counselling, meaning our mediation services are second to none.
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