Five mediation misconceptions
Despite family mediation being a viable option for resolving a range of family issues, confusion still exists about how the process works and what can be achieved from it.
After all, if mediation offers so many benefits to separating couples, why doesn’t everyone use it? The answer lies in some of the myths and misunderstandings of family mediation, as answered below.
1. Mediation is only for people who can communicate with each other
Whilst communication is important for mediation, it doesn’t really matter if you’re on bad terms. It’s the responsibility of your mediator to help you both communicate constructively.
When it comes to talking, the hardest part is breaking your deadlock. Once you’ve done that, all you actually need is the commitment and perseverance to work at resolving your relationship issues amicably.
2. Mediation is legally binding
Family mediation will help you find a solution together, but any agreements made during mediation aren’t legally binding.
If your mediation is successful and you manage to reach an agreement, you’ll be given a document that outlines your discussion, proposals and outcomes. If this relates to the financial aspects of your divorce, it can be taken to a solicitor and put into a legally binding agreement or consent order.
3. Mediation is for people who want to reconcile
No! Mediation facilitates discussions between couples about how they end their relationship and helps them reach agreement about matters regarding their children and property.
We’re not marriage guidance counsellors and your mediator won’t counsel you with a view to getting you back together.
4. We have to resolve all of our family issues with mediation
As mediators we recognise that it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, which is why you and your former partner have the flexibility to decide exactly what it is that you want to resolve using mediation. It may be that you can agree on how to approach matters with regards to your home and finances, but you can’t come to an agreement on a parenting plan at this point.
If that’s the case, that’s fine. Working through your other issues will take a weight off your mind and you can return to the mediation process at any point in the future.
5. Mediators provide legal advice
It’s important to remember that your family mediator is impartial; they can provide information but they can’t give you legal advice. Their role is help you understand and articulate your wants and your needs, not tell you what to do.
If you’re concerned, you may find it useful to take independent legal advice alongside the mediation process.
At Barcan+Kirby, we provide private and publicly funded mediation services from our six offices in Bristol.