There is some confusion about what family mediation is and what it can be used for. This article will look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding family mediation.
- Mediation is not a therapy sessionThe role of the mediator is not to act as a therapist. Their job is to help in identify the matters the couple want to resolve and look at the other possible options to help the family in the present and the future. It may be, if appropriate, that the mediator will suggest other forms of counselling and support and point the couple in the right direction of other professionals who can assist therapeutically.
- Mediation is not a route to ReconciliationIf you are your partner are looking to reconcile and work on your relationship, mediation is not the process for you. Mediation is a process to be used to help improve communication between separated or separating couples, only once they have made the decision to end their relationship.
- Mediation is not an alternative to or substitute for Legal AdviceMany mediators will also be specialist family lawyers, however their role in mediation is not to provide legal advice to the individuals. This is a job for their Solicitors. A mediator can provide legal information which might be helpful to the couple in understanding the law, knowing what they need to deal with in mediation and what options are possible from a legal perspective.
- Mediation cannot be forced on a coupleMediation is a completely voluntary process and no one is forced to attend. The decisions that are made in mediation are entirely down to the couple participating. The mediator cannot impose decisions on them like a Judge can.
- Mediation is not legally bindingMost discussions in mediation are completely confidential and cannot be referred to in any subsequent legal proceedings. This often allows people to negotiate without feeling they have to keep the cards close to their chest. Once your mediation has concluded, your mediator will prepare some documentation for your solicitor who can then put what you have decided in mediation into a legally binding format.
The main difference between mediation and what many people think of as a traditional means of resolving disputes on separation; instructing solicitors to negotiate on your behalf, is that with family mediation the couple involved have the opportunity to speak directly to each other. This can be crucially important in resolving a dispute as it provides them with platform to explain what is most important to them and ultimately allows them to feel heard.