I’m worried mediation might not be for me…….

In this article, Peter takes a look at some of the common worries people have about mediation.

Mediation is not right for everyone, but there is 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”.  We suspect that more people could benefit from mediation, than actually use it.

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. We can help you make the decision at a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (a MIAM).  You will always have the chance to meet separately with one of our mediators, in private, before we go ahead and arrange a meeting with your ex. We do not put pressure on you to mediate –the golden rule is that mediation is voluntary; no one has to do it.

Mediation can provide a similar outcome to the court process but at a fraction of the cost, and avoiding the nastiness of a court fight.  Surely that’s worth trying? So here we take a look at some of the worries people have about mediation.

  1. But my ex is completely unreasonable…… The mediator’s role is to work with you both to look at all the options. The mediator is not passive, we will explore and challenge along the way to make sure the outcome is fair.
  2. The finances are so complicated, and I’m not sure I trust him/her. Our mediators are all solicitors and we are used to looking at these situations from all sides. We encourage you both to take legal advice in the background. It is the mediator’s job to make sure we are all going at the same pace, and have access to the right information and advice.
  3. My ex is abusive. This is tricky. Abuse does not mean mediation is unsuitable, but we need to consider the impact and the risks of it affecting the mediation. Abusive and controlling behaviour casts a long shadow and we need to make sure that it doesn’t create unfairness in the mediation.  We will explore this with you in private at your MIAM meeting and we will not go ahead unless we are confident this can be managed. For example, we make sure you are never left alone together. In some cases the mediation can take place with you in separate rooms so you don’t have to see your ex face to face.  Ultimately it is our job as mediators to make sure the process is fair and is not affected by past behaviour.
  4. I just don’t know what I’m doing…. Again, we work with you and will signpost you for further advice and support along the way if necessary.
  5. I’m nervous and not sure it’s the right thing to do. Try it! It’s voluntary, so if it doesn’t work, we can end the process and you can try other options such as going to court. That sounds a bit negative but actually it’s the truth and it works as a safety net.  Nothing that is discussed at mediation is legally binding until you’ve had the chance to discuss it with your solicitor so we cannot do any harm.