A family mediator's role is to facilitate discussions between a couple who are separating or who have issues relating to the parenting of their children. The mediator does not give advice, adjudicate or make judgments.
They are there to support the couple in their decision making and reality check what is being proposed. The ability to ask the right questions and to ensure that each person listens to the other person are key attributes of a mediation. However, what is the situation if the couple have neither the knowledge nor emotional skills to be able to arrive at a proposal in mediation?
There are many people, in addition to the family mediator who can be helpful in a mediation and provide the support needed by a couple to enable them to make decisions.
So far as knowledge is concerned, often experts in the field of pension or valuing assets such as property or businesses can be involved in a mediation, if only remotely by preparing a report. This is because their technical knowledge is needed to enable an accurate schedule of the value of the assets to be prepared. Sometimes, they can propose options, particularly with regard to pensions and the remit of the instruction to the expert can be discussed in the mediation. Sometimes financial advisors can attend a mediation to answer questions on matter such as pension valuations and tax.
However, there is also another category of people who can be helpful in a mediation. Often people find it very difficult to communicate effectively in mediation and ensure that their voice is heard. The mediator can help with this but sometimes the ways of interacting with a former partner can be too engrained to overcome without additional support.
It is not uncommon for supporters to attend mediation with a couple. They do not contribute to the discussions and have no independent voice but they can ask for clarification. They sign the Agreement to Mediate so that they are a party to the mediation and are bound by the privilege and confidentiality clauses.
If a family member or friend is not available or additional support is needed then a Family Consultant can attend the mediation to help with communication issues.
Sometimes, work is done with the client beforehand to prepare them for mediation and thereafter the Family Consultant attends the mediation to help with emotion regulation and control so that people can think more clearly and not be clouded in their decision making. It also means that mediation is a less distressing experience and ensures that people remain at mediation and do not resort to the court process. In this way cases that would not routinely have been seen as suitable for family mediation can be successful.
How Blake Morgan can help
Family mediator Christine Plews is writing a series of blogs for Family Mediation Week, which is 18-22 January 2021, and they will be published on Monday through to Friday. The aim of the week is to raise awareness of mediation and how it can help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively.
Christine is a vastly experienced family lawyer with over 30 years’ experience in this area. She is highly ranked and recommended in legal directories. Christine was a partner at Blake Morgan LLP until 2019 when she became a Consultant specialising in mediation.
Please do get in touch to find out how our family mediators can help you.
You can read the other articles written during Family Mediation Week here: