As part of Family Mediation Week we will be sharing a blog on each of our daily topics. These blogs are written by Louisa Whitney from LKW Family Mediation, an FMC Accredited and Child Inclusive Mediator and Professional Practice Consultant. We will also be busting a myth in each blog as there are many misconceptions around the family mediation process and we’re keen to use this week to share correct and clear information.
Today’s myth: the mediation process is always the same
One of the great benefits of the mediation process is that it is hugely flexible. This means that it can be tailored to those who are using the process. For example, where a couple have been separated for some time and are now not feeling hugely emotional about the separation they may be keen to find a resolution to issues so they can move on to the next chapter. They may therefore come to mediation meetings very regularly – say 4 meetings over a 2 month period. Where a couple have only recently separated but still feel things need to be sorted out they may take things at a slower pace to allow for the fact that things feel more raw. They may therefore attend 5 mediation meetings over a period of 6 months. They may each attend a counselling session after mediation to help them with difficult emotions that crop up.
There are also other ways of using the mediation process such as Child Inclusive mediation where children’s voices can be heard as part of the mediation process. This is not designed to give children any responsibility for decision making but rather a safe space where they can share things with the mediator as an impartial person. It’s completely confidential and the mediator only feeds back to parents what the child or children feel comfortable with. This way the children know they can share how they’re feeling with someone without having to share the things that might cause their parents upset. They can then discuss with the mediator what messages they would like past onto their parents. Their parents are then able to hear their children’s views and to be guided by them in discussing arrangements in mediation meetings. It’s a valuable tool.
Mediation can also take place with lawyers present to give both parties the support of being able to access legal advice as part of the mediation process. This can help both parties to feel more supported in the mediation process. It can also mean that discussions are more productive as each party feels more confident sharing their views where they’ve been able to take advice from their lawyer.
Many mediators take the view that the mediation process should be tailored to the clients in it at any moment. The initial meetings with each party individually (called MIAMS – Mediation Information and Assessment meetings) enable the mediator to explore what might assist the parties so that the process can be tailored to them.
For more information find a mediator local to you and ask them any questions that you have.