Barriers to mediation | Woollcombe Yonge
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Woollcombe Yonge
Jan Santillo

Jan Santillo

Barriers to mediation

For the final update in this mediation series William Giles, the Mediator at Woollcombe Yonge, provides guidance as to how couples attending mediation can make the best of that mediation and give themselves the best possible opportunity to negotiate a settlement.

Will urges separating couples to try the mediation process for dispute resolution. You may find it cheaper, quicker, more constructive and with better communication between you in the future.

There can be many barriers put up in regard to attending mediation. Lead mediator Will hopes to encourage separated couples to try to overcome these mediation problems and try to see if a mediated solution can be found.

My former partner will not provide financial information

As part of any process involving divorce, it will be necessary to gather financial information such as details of the value of your house, any mortgages attached, pensions valuations, bank statements, credit card statements, valuations of motor vehicles and items of value that you may own, wage slips and details of any sources of income you may have.

Some people worry that the other party will not provide that information.  It is of course crucial as part of any form of mediation process that full and frank disclosure is given in a transparent way.  Without this, mediation may not be suitable.

However, within mediation, parties to the mediation are able to decide what is and what is not relevant. Having said that, if one party feels the other is not providing a full disclosure then there is unlikely to be an agreement reached at the end of the process and mediation will have been unsuccessful, regardless of anything the mediator can assist.

My former partner won’t come to mediation

This is a common worry.  There is little effort however in contacting the other party to ask if they will attend a mediation initial assessment meeting (MIAM).  People are often surprised that in fact someone they did not think would attend does in fact want to attend to see if mediation is the way forward.

The initial state of mediation is for each party to meet with the mediator individually and this gives each party an opportunity to have their say and to let the mediator know the issues that are most important to them and the concerns they may have.  This can often be therapeutic and can assist in the mediation sessions in clearing the air as well as helping both parties involved understand the process.

Mediation is expensive

The reality is that mediation is in fact far cheaper than court proceedings.  in mediation, you would expect to have between 1-5 sessions of 1 ½ – 2 hours per session.  It would be reasonable to assume that most mediation cases fall between 2-4 sessions.  Our mediation fees are £100.00 plus VAT per person per hour.  Court proceedings on the other hand for the same issues often incur fees of £10,000-£15,000 per party involved.

You may also be eligible for legal aid, use the Government’s legal aid calculator to see if all or part of your mediation costs could be covered for one or both parties.

My former partner will not agree matters

This is a common misconception.  Most people who attend mediation know that they are there to reach a compromise and are happy to negotiate with help from the designated mediator. They come to mediation with what they would like out of mediation but also how much they are willing to compromise in order to reach and agreement without further conflict.

Where both parties are in dispute and positionalised in that they have received advice about what they should seek and will not move from that advice, there is likely to be a breakdown in communication and mediation may not be effective.

My former partner is a stronger character/more charismatic

These all may or may not be true and some people lack confidence when having to deal with a stronger or more charismatic ex partner.  The designated mediator however is specially trained to monitor “bargaining power” and to help empower both parties to have their say whilst sat in the meeting room.  The mediator is there to control the meetings and, in the event that the mediator thinks that one party is being dominated, they can bring an end to those sessions.

My ex partner thinks we should just go to court

Ex-partners often put up a number of significant reasons why they should not attend mediation and why they instead should go to court.  However, this then means they miss an opportunity to resolve matters by agreement and to improve communication whilst sat in the same room.

Court proceedings will almost certainly leave parties more divided and more bitter towards each other.  Sometimes court proceeding are absolutely necessary and Woollcombe Yonge Solicitors have numerous specialists who can assist in this respect.  However, it is well worth considering mediation before embarking upon litigation.

Mediation is often less stressful, cheaper and quicker than obtaining a court order. Couples will have the opportunity to find creative solutions that both are content with, rather than have an order imposed by a Judge.

Choose your mediator wisely

Mediation issues can arise but it is important that you have a mediator that can help you overcome these wherever possible and ensure the communication doesn’t break down between both parties.

You want to ensure that you completely trust your mediator in order for discussions and disputes to be effectively resolved. Use a trusted mediator who is completely neutral with plenty of experience and has dealt with similar cases before to give you complete peace of mind and confidence in their abilities.

William Giles is a family law solicitor, mediator and collaborative practitioner with Woollcombe Yonge Solicitors and within WY Mediation.  He is registered with the family mediation council and has lots of experience in both family law and mediation.

For an initial free discussion regarding mediation with Will Giles please telephone him on (01752) 660384.

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