The courts don’t always make you feel better

Posted by Christine Plews, 21st January 2019
While most people don’t start court proceedings lightly, there can be an element of hoping that it will be cathartic or therapeutic in some way and that ‘justice’ will be done.

However, in my experience, as a  lawyer/mediator, with many years’ litigation experience, the courts do not make the vast majority of people feel any better and, in many cases, can make them feel a whole lot worse.

This is partly due to the courts investigative role in finding out the accuracy of a situation. They will aim to be even handed and find a fair outcome.  However, what is fair and what is a just outcome differs from person to person. Also, the court will look at matters on an issue by issue basis and after a, sometimes painful, examination of the facts will decide the outcome of each issue.

Only facts are considered and rarely are the feelings of the adults taken into account.

The difficulty is that feelings pervade almost all our decision making.

Last year I did a postgraduate qualification in psychodynamic counselling. I learnt that our conscious thoughts are quite easy for us to take into account, even if they create difficult feelings. However, much of our behaviour is controlled by our unconscious feelings and we do not know why we find certain situations, people or outcomes much more difficult than others.

Mediation is a process that supports the legal process but takes into account peoples’ expressed and unexpressed feelings. It can give people the space to be listened to and their worries and concerns taken into account. Ultimately, mediation is not a different method to resolving family disputes on divorce. It follows the legal framework but it uses a different approach to reach more consensual outcomes. This can make a difference to how people feel.

Blake Morgan is supporting Family Mediation Week, which runs from 21st – 25th January 2019. Family Mediation Week aims to raise awareness of mediation and how it can help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively.

Our family law experts Christine Plews and Flora Grossman are both qualified family mediators and Christine is accredited by the Family Mediation Council. During a mediation they will provide legal and financial information in an impartial way to help you understand the options available to you. The choices and decisions are yours and the mediator will not make judgment about your individual or joint situation, nor provide advice on your ‘best interests’. They will help you both to reality test the options and discuss with you both which solutions might work best for you and your family. They often work with other professionals such as accountants and counsellors to enhance the process.

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