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Family Mediation Week – What types of mediation are available for separating couples?


Traditionally, people think of mediation as two people sitting in a room with a mediator until they reach an agreement. Mediation has progressed significantly and it is recognised that one way of doing things is not right for everyone.

Some of the different approaches to mediation available are:

  • Traditional mediation is where the couple meet, with the mediator, in one room to talk about the issues between them to try to come to a solution. The mediator remains impartial throughout and their primary focus is on facilitating the couple to reach their own conclusions about what is right for their family in a safe environment.
  • Shuttle mediation is where each party sits in a separate room and the mediator goes between the rooms to help them come to a resolution. This model can be really helpful in situations where the parties want to negotiate their own solution but struggle to talk directly to one another. The mediator can also act as a ‘buffer’ and filter out some of the emotions to help the discussions remain focused and calm.
  • Co-mediation is the term used to describe a mediation where there are two mediators. This can be useful in situations where the issues in dispute are very complex. It allows the mediators to work together to ensure the couple are fully supported. It may be that the co-mediators assign themselves different roles, e.g. one to maintain the visual flipchart and record the factual details and one to monitor the discussions and ensure both parties are heard.
  • Hybrid mediation allows a couple to try and reach an agreement with the help of the mediator and legal support. As the mediator cannot give advice, just information, parties are always encouraged to take legal advice too. In the traditional models, that means speaking to the lawyer before or after the session but handling the negotiations themselves. The hybrid model involves both parties bringing their lawyers to the mediation sessions so that they can have on the spot legal advice as the discussions progress.
  • Child inclusive mediation gives the child the opportunity to meet and talk with a mediator. It may be the same mediator the parents are seeing or a separate mediator. In both scenarios, the mediator can then feedback the child’s view to the parents to help them come to an agreement about what arrangements would work best for their family. The child’s mediation appointment is their appointment. The parents do not go too and the parents do not have the right to know everything the child has said – just what the child authorises the mediator to tell the parents.
  • Third parties in mediation is exactly what it says it is… a third party joining the mediation. The third party would be a professional whose advice is needed to help the parties reach a conclusion. It could be a pensions expert to help explain the meaning/impact of a pension sharing order, an accountant to explain the meaning of the company’s accounts or perhaps an IFA to provide investment advice or provide financial projections to illustrate how the financial settlement the parties are discussing would impact their standard of living in the future.

Sometimes, therapists or family counsellors are brought into a mediation to help the parties work through their emotions and anxieties. Third parties do not have to be at every session. Often they attend just one or two, especially if there is an impasse and the support of the third party can help unlock the discussions.

An experienced mediator will be able to guide you as to which model is going to be most constructive in your individual situation.

If you would like to find out more and to take advantage of the £500 voucher towards mediation services, please contact our Family Mediation Services team here or for further information contact us on 0800 2800 421 or click here.

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