What is Mediation?.

Specialist family mediator, Rachel Lemon raises awareness of Family Mediation Week (20 to 24 January 2020) by sharing with us what mediation is, how it works and the benefits of mediation for separating families in part 1 of her 5 part series.

What is mediation?

Firstly, what it is not – couples counselling. Mediation provides a safe environment for those who have decided they wish for their relationship to come to an end to speak freely (guided by me towards a future focused and solution based perspective) and to explore options as to how they will deal with financial arrangements and for the children. 

How does it work?

I like to see each person on their own first. That gives each person the chance to speak to me without the other person there to start with. I hope that by doing that, some of their anxieties may ease as we build a rapport. I explain the process to each person and there is the opportunity to raise queries or concerns.. It can also provide a valuable insight into how they have dealt with disputes before and whether there are likely to be any challenges for them or me as their mediator. Once I have met with both individually, we then arrange to meet for our first joint session.

Together with my support, we agree what issues need to be explored and addressed.

We then work through those issues one by one and explore options that may be available as a workable and practical solution. By exploring all options, and reality testing those, both are able to take ownership of the process, feel empowered that they are in control and know when they reach an agreement that they did so having thought carefully about the other options.

This process can be challenging but I am there to support the discussions, keep them on track and future focused and solution based. As a mediator who is also an experienced specialist family lawyer, I am able to bring the skills and knowledge I have to the mediation room which adds another layer of support. I am not able to provide legal advice (it is fine and encouraged that each person has their own lawyer for that) but I can provide lots of helpful information.

Hopefully, after several sessions (the time it takes varies from couple to couple and depends on the issues) the couple are able to reach a consensus. I then draw that up into a document which can be put in to a court Order (so it is binding) by the lawyers.

What are the benefits?

  1. It gets people talking.
  2. Conversations are less likely to break down as they are supported and encouraged to be future focused and solution based.
  3. Concerns and issues can be raised and resolved more quickly than through correspondence (which tends to be the way solicitors deal with issues). As a result, it is usually a cheaper process than negotiating via solicitors or going through a court process.
  4. The children can be seen by the mediator (NOT so they can make decisions which are their parents’ to make) but so they can be heard and have a voice.
  5. It is a less “positional” approach than a court process so the potential wedge that is driven between the two people can be avoided.
  6. Parents can begin to learn to communicate with each other effectively about their children outside of the relationship which has now ended. I often say one of the objectives of mediation might be that they can both be at their child’s wedding, they don’t have to be side by side but both just be there.

If you require information about the process of mediation, contact Rachel Lemon on 01932 590 612 or at rachel.lemon@mundays.co.uk

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