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Divorce law blog

Why family mediation is definitely not a waste of your time

26/10/2012   By: Alison Bull

The Government has recently set out to push family mediation to the forefront of the divorce process, ensuring that all divorcing couples are aware of this option for dealing with disputes. But there are those who will say everyone is wasting their time with mediation. For once, I agree wholeheartedly with the Government: family mediation is definitely not a waste of your time and here’s why.

The Government’s drive aims to make sure people can make informed choices. It’s better for families and our future society. The important thing is that you are fully aware of all the possible options for sorting out family disputes: mediation (in all its forms), collaborative lawarbitration and the court process. And if that information saves public money, and your money, then so much the better.

Ask yourself two questions:

  1. If I have to separate from my partner, would I prefer to sort everything privately, with someone to help us deal with the tricky issues (especially if we have children together), or do I want to go to court to have someone else decide our future within the constraints of the legal system?
  2. What is better for my children: to have two parents putting aside their often extreme distress, anger and guilt in order to focus on what is best for them, or to spend their future inheritance on lawyers and court proceedings?

It takes two to tango of course, and mediation can be a much more difficult process than court. There is always some conflict in a relationship breakdown. After all, there are reasons why the relationship has broken down. The key is to reduce rather than inflame conflict. Emotions often run high. There are background issues of power and control. It may be a rocky road to a peaceful destination.

To mediate using the usual family mediation model, both of you and the mediator have to be able to face the conflict in the room. It’s the mediator’s role to manage the process, to make sure it’s as productive as it can be, and to help diffuse the situation when things get heated. It can be a great deal easier emotionally in the short-term to “hide behind” the lawyers in the court process. In turn the lawyers can hide behind the law and the court. In the long-term though, mediation with the assistance of a highly skilled professional mediator and legal backup is a worthwhile investment for the psychological long-term wellbeing of you and your children.

I recognise that mediation is not right for everybody, and that timing can be critical. What seems impossible one week can seem the best option given the passage of some time. And if your former partner is determined to bully, hide assets, and/or control you whatever the cost, or if they have difficult psychiatric or psychological issues, the court process is essential. People like this are in the minority though.

If you would like to know more about mediation, you may find our video explaining what mediation is useful, or feel free to get in touch with one of our mediators.

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