Does mediation work?

People often worry about mediation and that’s understandable – most people haven’t done it before and they are worried or cautious about whether it can work.

Mediation isn’t right for everyone, but remember there’s no magic, perfect way of sorting things out.  Not many people go through the court system and end up thinking “Phew! I’m glad I did that”.  Here at bbl all our mediators are also solicitors, so we see both sides, and we genuinely think more people could avoid court if they tried mediation.

We’re not blind to the pros and cons of mediation, and it’s really important to work out whether its right for you or not. That’s why the first step is for you to meet with one of our mediators, by yourself, to check it’s suitable.  We don’t put pressure on you to mediate –the golden rule is that mediation is voluntary; no one has to do it.

Mediation involves meeting you, your ex and the mediator, sitting in a room together, or in separate rooms if that’s too difficult.  The mediator’s role is to work with you both to look at all the options.

Mediation isn’t counselling or therapy – we just deal with practical arrangements, usually the terms of a financial settlement or arrangements for children.

As mediators our job is to help you reach a fair agreement. We keep the discussions relaxed, and focused on the relevant issues. We make sure you don’t end up repeating arguments about anything unconnected to the issue. Most importantly, our job is to keep it balanced and make sure no one is put under pressure. It involves compromise so it can be difficult, but it’s so much quicker and cheaper and more constructive than going to court.

People are often worried about mediation, particularly when the relationship has ended on bad terms. We consider that very carefully before going ahead. Abusive and controlling behaviour casts a long shadow and we need to make sure that it doesn’t create unfairness in the mediation.  We explore this with you in private at your initial meeting and we won’t go ahead unless we are both confident this can be managed.

If in doubt Try it! It’s voluntary, so if it doesn’t work, you can end the process and you can try other options such as going to court. That sounds a bit negative but it actually works as a safety net.  We find mediation works in 70 or 80% of cases – it can provide a similar outcome to the court process but at a fraction of the cost, and avoiding the nastiness of a court fight.

Peter