When a family relationship breaks down there is usually conflict between those involved. Conflict is everywhere and is a part of human life. If conflict is managed well it need not destroy relationships and in fact, conflict can be used constructively and strengthen relationships.
Managing conflict is rarely about who is right or wrong but instead about identifying and understanding differences. In order for conflict to be resolved there must be communication. This is difficult when a relationship breaks down, as often poor communication is a contributing factor to the problems between the couple or family in the first place.
Mediation can be used to manage conflict, as the mediator will take an impartial stance and will help the parties focus on solutions (rather than arguing) and ultimately help improve communication between them.
It is particularly important, when there are children in the family, to focus on how they are being affected by the situation and what steps can be taken to ensure that their emotional and physical needs are met – even if their parents are no longer a couple.
The mediation process provides an opportunity for those involved to take the time to consider and resolve issues relating to family relationships such as divorce, separation, children’s schedules, financial arrangements and many of the other practical decisions which need to be addressed.
Family mediation doesn’t have to be between separating partners or spouses – other family members, such as Grandparents, can also benefit. In certain cases, where appropriate, our mediators are trained to conduct direct consultations with children- to allow them express their view, concerns and worries safely. The purpose is to open the lines of communication within a family but not to put the child in the position of decision maker.
It is not a process suitable for every family and careful thought needs to be given on an individual case by case basis as to whether or not it can or should be used.
Our family mediator, Lauren Sadler, has been specially trained to conduct child inclusive mediation and is the holder of an enhanced CRB check.
The mediation process is generally less confrontational than other methods of achieving an outcome (i.e solicitor negotiations or Court).
• Costs- Mediation if often significantly cheaper and much quicker than the traditional solicitor or Court route. Legal aid is still available for family mediation, subject to a means test and if you qualify you will be able to go through mediation for free with a legal aid provider. See our Fees and Funding page for more information on cost.
• Voluntary- As the couple are in control of the pace and content of the mediation sessions, client’s feel more in control of their future decisions, thus reducing uncertainty. it is open to the parties to decide to leave mediation at any stage, they do not have to continue in mediation if they do not wish to. It is a client focused and client driven process. The parties are in control and are not pressurised into taking a particular route – which may not be in the interests of their family.
• Confidential—the parties are free to discuss their positions openly, knowing that the mediator will not report their discussions to the Court if the mediation process breaks down.
• Impartial– The mediator is impartial, which means they do not have any personal interest in the outcome of the mediation. It is the mediator’s role to prevent manipulative or intimidating behaviour by the parties and address, where possible, any imbalance of power.
• Pacing– parties are able to take mediation as quickly or slowly as it suits them.
How does it work?
Firstly, the mediator will speak to you and your former partner separately – with the aim to then get everybody round a table to discuss future arrangements. It is possible to take part in a type of mediation called ‘shuttle’ mediation, when the mediator moves between the parties who are in separate rooms. Parties will present information in an open and transparent way, so that all parties are able to fully understand. The mediator will cross check disclosure to see if there are any gaps. The parties will then work together to come up with suggestions and solutions with the assistance of a mediator. No final order is made in a mediation—the mediator will generally set out the terms of agreement for the parties in a letter or document called a “memorandum of understanding”, which is then released to the parties and their solicitors’ (if they have them) – for their solicitors’ to prepare a Consent Order if a full agreement has been reached. Most cases are resolved within 2-5 sessions, although simple issues may only need 1-2 sessions.
Whilst mediation can help people at any stage of a relationship breakdown or indeed years after, we find that coming to Mediation early can help set the tone for how the couple will communicate as time goes on.
Our independent, qualified mediators will work with you to come to a mutual agreement. This process focuses very much on the future and moving forward, rather than the past.
If you would like further information about how mediation can help you, please contact us. Please also see out Quick Guides to answer any questions you may have: