As Family Mediation Week draws to a close, I have reflected on my foundation training in light of the wealth of information available about family mediation.
Key to mediation is listening, actively. That is by the mediator, but also by the parties to the mediation. It is the mediator’s role to manage the room in such a way that each and both of the parties are able to be heard. It is also possible for some mediators to listen to the children involved in a mediation (Child Inclusive Mediation), which can be influential. Listening is clearly a transferrable skill; listening in any area of life, legally or otherwise, where difficulties may arise is likely to be beneficial to all involved.
Whilst not every mediation will involve children, what was abundantly clear to me is that when children are involved, they must remain at the centre of discussions. This echoes the law, of course, but the mediation process allows much more flexibility. It might be that parents are able to test run a proposal to determine if it will work, in direct contrast to a schedule being imposed upon them by the Court. This can also be said for financial matters; those in the mediation process are able to get the relevant advice and information to properly reality test a proposal before committing. This is potentially helpful advice to those not within the mediation process.
The training has also caused me to consider my approach generally to family law. Whilst it is sadly the case that some matters need to be heard by a Court, family lawyers should all consider adopting an approach which puts children first, and ensures that families are able to move forward constructively, without resorting to Court proceedings.
Hostile correspondence or an unwillingness to pick up the phone are be examples of counter productivity for all involved, leading to greater frustration and therefore greater hostility. This might prolong a matter, increasing legal costs, and further damaging relationships.
Finally, mediation can be for all. I have been guilty of dismissing mediation as an option very early on, but the training taught me that, if nothing else, an initial conversation with a mediator can be extremely powerful. We will provide information on mediation, of course, but also information on other non-Court options available.
For further information on mediation, please see our mediation services.