Common fears – Family mediation

Deciding whether to engage in Family Mediation is a daunting decision. It is a step in to the unfamiliar with the emotions that go hand in hand with meeting with your former partner and discussing emotional and complicated topics. It is only natural to be anxious and have concerns.

No one should ever feel pressured into participating in Family Mediation (after all, one of the key principles of Family Mediation is that it is voluntary), but it is an important option to consider due to the many benefits it offers. To consider whether mediation is right for you, it might help to read the ideas below for how common fears can be addressed:

I might make the wrong decision

All sorts of emotions can bubble up during the mediation meetings – that’s normal and to be expected. The mediator is not expecting you to make final decisions, that impact on your children’s future and/or your future financial security when you’re upset or fatigued after difficult discussions.

After each meeting, your mediator will provide you with a summary to help you reflect on the discussions you had. You will also have time to meet with professional advisors, such as solicitors or financial experts, to help you decide whether you’re happy with the proposals you made. If you are, then your lawyers can help you prepare the legal documents, if not, you can return to continue your discussions in mediation. The mediator will not force you to make any decision. One of the benefits of mediation is that you are still in control of the decisions.

Waste of time and money

Mediation is usually a cheaper option to other forms of dispute resolution for 3 main reasons. Firstly, you share the costs of the mediator. Secondly, the discussions are focused on the things that are important to you and done in conversation, rather than letters going backwards and forwards. Thirdly, you have the input from the mediator who will is experienced in helping you have productive discussions.

I’m worried about sitting in the same room as my ex-partner

Then you don’t have to. We offer online mediation and “shuttle mediation”, which is where the mediator will move between you and your ex-partner. You will not be forced to sit in the same room if you do not want to. If you do decide to mediate in the same room, we understand that this is not always easy, so we’ll support you and your ex-partner.

Don’t have the support of my legal advisor

Our mediator is also an experience family solicitor and while, as a mediator, he cannot provide legal advice, he is able to provide legal information which is often what’s needed, but legal advice is important. The mediator will highlight times when legal advice is going to be most helpful.

Mediation is also a flexible option – the mediator will work with you and, if you wish, with your solicitor. You can decide whether you meet with your solicitor in between mediation meetings or solicitors can join you in the mediation meetings to offer their advice and support. Our mediator will discuss these options with you during the assessment meeting and throughout the mediation process.

There might be a Power Imbalance

It is important that both you and your former partner have the confidence to negotiate freely and confidently. In some circumstances, where there has been domestic abuse, mediation may not be appropriate; the mediator will discuss this with you in your confidential assessment meeting.

There are a number of ways to help address power imbalances including; online mediation, bringing in solicitors and/or financial advisors to the meetings, “shuttle mediations” – where our “hybrid mediator” can have a series of confidential meetings with you and then separate meetings with your ex.

We’ve tried to agree but can’t, what difference is mediation going to make?

Our mediator is skilled and experienced in helping couples reach agreements. Mediators are far more than just a referee or passing offers between you. They help parties have conversations that are focused on what is important, help them explore options (sometimes ones that have not already been considered), provide legal information and resources and signpost them to other professionals that can help.

There are many times where mediation has been successful where participants thought they were not going to reach an agreement. Our advice – it’s worth a try!



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