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How to get the best out of family mediation
You’ve decided to use family mediation to resolve your relationship dispute, but how do you get the best out of the process?
We’ve provided some useful pointers you might want to consider to ensure that you benefit fully from family mediation.
Get your timing right
When is the best time to start mediation? It’s a difficult question to answer.
Clearly the timing depends upon you and your former partner. Of course, there are many benefits to starting mediation early, not least because of the time and money you can potentially save in legal fees.
But similarly, you need to be emotionally ready to be able to sit down together and talk, willingly and constructively, about finding a way forward and resolving your issues. Mediation requires commitment from you both and only you know when you’re ready to give that.
Think about what you want to achieve
Preparation for family mediation is crucial. It’s too easy to reel off a list of everything you want – the car, the house, the dog.
What you actually need to do is take a step backwards and think about what you really want to achieve from mediation. For most, this is more than just a list of material possessions.
In reality everyone has different priorities. For many it’s deciding together how you split your assets post-separation. For others it’s important to maintain a relationship with their former partner for the child’s benefit.
Either way, it’s worth taking some time to think through things carefully so that when you do enter the process, you do so with an open mind and a clear idea of what you’d like to achieve.
Keep in mind your end goal
Continually remind yourself why you’ve come to mediation. You’ve come to reach a solution.
An amicable solution is possible with mediation. But for this to happen, you’ll need to have a two-way conversation and be able to discuss matters openly and constructively. Make sure you’re listening and make the effort to understand the issues from your former partner’s perspective.
Only by putting the past and any animosity aside will you be able to work together towards finding a positive solution.
We won’t pretend that mediation is easy. For many it’s a stressful, difficult time which is fraught with emotion.
It can be difficult not to fight ‘fire with fire’, especially if there’s one particular point upon which you both disagree. But resist temptation and keep your cool. Focus on the immediate issues, not on the other person. Look for a compromise, don’t instigate another argument.
Remember, you’re there to find a way forward – not take a step backwards – so take a deep breath, count to ten and look to the future.
Keeping your emotions in check means you’re unlikely to make any rash decisions and will enable you to work towards a solution with which you’re both satisfied and which will stand the test of time.
Take advice from other parties
We’d always encourage anyone going through mediation to take independent legal advice before they come to us and especially once you have reached a final agreement. You may also find it useful to take legal advice alongside the mediation process.
Whilst your solicitor doesn’t attend mediation with you, it’s important to remember that your family mediator is impartial; they can provide information but they can’t give you legal advice.
If you’re undergoing financial mediation, it’s particularly important that you take advice from other parties. You’ll need to compile a detailed list of assets, liabilities, income and expenditure. This could include your home, its contents, the value of your pensions and any savings or debts.
Your financial disclosure must be full, honest and frank. So as well as your solicitor, you may also need to consult a financial adviser, pension expert or estate agent.
Think about the long term
We understand how difficult it can be to put your feelings aside and think about the bigger picture; however it’s really important that you take a long term view.
The hardest part of mediation is often breaking your deadlock. But in order to move forward, you need to find that point at which you stop arguing, begin listening and – most importantly – start talking.
Fundamentally mediation is about balance. It’s about giving you both equal input into what has been agreed so that you can walk away with a sense of ownership. It won’t feel like it now, but making those decisions together, and on your own mutual terms, is empowering.
Of course, if you have children you’ll need to make decisions about how you parent them together. It might be difficult for you to maintain a relationship, in which case you can also agree on how you’ll communicate in the future to avoid your separation adversely affecting your child.
In some ways, there’s nothing worse than an uncertain future. But by making the decision to resolve your dispute using mediation, you’re making positive strides towards determining the outcome of your own situation.
Don’t be disheartened
Of course, mediation isn’t the answer for everyone. If it’s unsuccessful for you and your partner, it’s only natural that you’ll feel upset and disappointed.
If this is the case, it’s important to remember that you can return to the mediation process at any point. And just by getting to the stage you have, you’ve probably made more progress than you actually realise at the time.
By using mediation to resolve your family dispute, you’re taking positive steps forward.
Our family mediators will provide the help, guidance and support you need to make the mediation process as simple and stress-free as possible.