How to prepare for family mediation
In this series of blogs about the mediation process 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. This blog talks you through how to prepare for mediation.
Preparation for the mediation meeting
Before the initial mediation session takes place give time to consider the things outlined below. This will make the mediation process more streamlined and faster, reducing the emotional burden and potentially reducing the cost too.
Understand the options based on your circumstances
You need to know whether you are happy for mediation to take place in a joint session (with the other party present in the same room), or if you wish the mediator to relay information to both parties in separate rooms. In most cases, family mediators will undertake the initial meeting (also known as an MIAM or first meeting) with both parties as a joint session. If this does not suit your situation then speak to your mediator in advance.
Do note that for domestic abuse cases attending mediation session before a court application can be drafted is not necessary.
Prepare your financial documents
In mediations about financial situations, carefully consider all of the documentation that you may have prepared and that you may have been provided with. This could include the open financial statement prepared by a mediator following a previous mediation, an interim Memorandum of Understanding or documents that have been exchanged between the parties prior to or during the mediation process.
Submit any paperwork early
Make sure any paperwork, forms or documents have been submitted in plenty of time to ensure everyone is prepared for the meeting and you can get the most out of the professional advice being given to you and discuss anything that has been flagged in these documents.
Ask yourself some key questions about what you want from the process
1.Know what you are asking for, what are your priorities and where are you willing to make compromises.
2.What is most important to the other party and in what order of priority.
3.What is your ideal solution, the satisfactory outcome both parties are ok with, whilst achieving as much as possible from both of these lists.
4.Is this solution fair to both parties?
Think about, for example, in financial issues about whether you are each budgeting enough to afford where you are going to live. Would you want to live where the other person could live based upon the budget?
Going into family mediation with a clear idea of not just your ideal outcome but also where you are willing to make compromises, will really speed up the process. You will feel much more in control if you have had chance to think about all the possible different solutions and mean you can focus on finding that point of compromise with the other party alongside your accredited mediator. It can also allow you to see where you might need to access further information and/or legal advice before your mediation assessment meeting.
Our recent blog has much more information on family mediation questions to ask, both beforehand and during the session, in order to help better prepare for your family mediation sessions.
The night before your mediation session
Prepare your journey
Be sure to know where you are going, how you are getting there? (Is there car parking nearby or perhaps a bus stop or will you need to book a taxi?). How long will it take you to get there? This means you can be prepared and be sure to arrive at your family mediation session on time or, preferably, 10 minutes early.
Get a good nights sleep
Sleep can make a huge difference to our mood and concentration so a good nights sleep will help set you up for successful mediation. Try to put any worries aside or keep a pen and paper by your bed to jot any thoughts down that you can address in the meeting with your family mediators.
Get your emotions in check
Mediation can be emotionally tough so make sure you have some coping strategies ready for mediation to help you get through it.
What to expect from mediation
The first session is all about giving you more mediation information and deciding whether your case is suitable for resolution by mediation or if another option is more suitable. It can also allow the mediator to signpost you to additional or alternative help such as counselling and legal aid. Our blog on Everything you need to know about family mediation and how it works gives a comprehensive overview about the whole process.
Tips for the family mediation meetings
Expect the unexpected – as much as planning helps, you can’t plan for everything. So be prepared to face some things you did not expect to happen.
Try to remain calm and listen – the more prepared you are the more successful mediation is likely to be, particularly that initial meeting.
Give yourself time to think before responding – you can take a moment away from the other party if you need it, there is no time limit for mediation.
You can take a break, or withdraw completely, from mediation. It is a voluntary process so no one can make you stay.
Family Mediation at Woollcombe Yonge
William Giles is a Family Law Solicitor, Mediator and Collaborative Practitioner with Woollcombe Yonge Solicitors in Plymouth. Our mediation practice is known as WY Mediation. For initial free discussion with Will Giles please telephone him on (01752) 660384.
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"As a family we found the service provided to us was delivered with ’empathy’ and was in fact ‘outstanding’, we would most certainly recommend Woollcombe Yonge to friends.”