Mediation - It's not just about getting an agreement!

“We need to sort out an arrangement for the kids”.  Working out the arrangement, whether that’s about contact for your children or the assets of the relationship, is important, but what else can you use mediation to do?

Well, most importantly, you can talk to your former partner.  You can both talk directly, without going through your lawyers.  You can talk in a fairly low-key setting, without the unavoidable formality of a court.  Your conversation is entirely private and won’t be repeated.

You may wonder why this is important, and surely agreeing who the children are staying with at half-term is the thing you need to sort out?  Communicating with your former partner is important as it helps you to discuss the issues and work towards a solution.  Sharing your feelings and your perspective can help you to move forward.  It can also help your former partner to better understand your feelings.  The mediator may be able to help both of you to think about these feelings and how important they could be to the situation.  You may be reluctant for your child to meet your ex-spouse’s new partner.  Raising this issue in mediation can be a way for both of you to acknowledge your concerns and feelings and in turn address it as part of the resolution.

Many people understandably want their “day in court” as part of a process where they get to say everything they want to say.  The reality is that a court process is very formal and that individuals don’t do much talking. Their lawyers and written witness statements usually do this for them.  Family Court judges always do their best to as welcoming, helpful and to tone down the formality of a court, but the process of going to court can be fairly inflexible.

Mediation can be your personalised training programme to help both of you improve the way you communicate with each other and manage tensions between you.  It can also help you to identify your needs and explain these, rather than just saying “This is my position”.  Exploring these needs and interests in a private setting can help both of you to work out a solution you agree with.  This discussion, and any mutually compatible solution, is one which you create.

Mediation can help both of you to focus on your role as parents.  Although you have divorced or separated or dissolved your partnership, you're still parents to your children.  Whether you agree a solution or a court orders one for you, you will still need to talk to each other to make that work.  Talking in mediation can help you to make that work in the best for you and your kids.

© Simon Robinson October 2015

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Simon Robinson is a qualified mediator and mediates in family, employment, civil and commercial disputes. Simon mediates alone, and also co-mediates where appropriate with qualified professional colleagues.