Family Mediation in lockdown
It has been a busy year for our mediation service. A very positive development has been our transition from face to face to online meetings in most cases. The format is the same and outcomes equally as good.
This change has been welcomed by participants. Geographically, it means that mediation can go ahead with separating couples at different parts of the country or in some cases, with one person overseas. Those who cannot face being in the same room can have their distance but engage in purposeful discussions. It keeps participants feeling safe and secure and reduces the stress of travel, parking or domestic arrangements by having the meetings online. It can be done in the comfort of one’s own home.
Meanwhile, the court service has been disrupted and slowed down. Whilst urgent work takes priority the more regular divorce, financial and children work is slowly dealt with.
Mediation is a move away from taking adversarial positions. In too many situations the court procedure is more likely to entrench than resolve conflict. Rather than live on your nerves due to the uncertainty of court proceedings, you and your ex-partner have control of the outcome.
In mediation the focus is on future plans. Participants need to be emotionally ready to consider change, as divorce and separation can be a form of loss. If not ready, there is a tendency to resort to the fight, flight or freeze responses. With care and a respectful dialogue there can be good outcomes. Using mediation provides a clear process, time frame and more reasonable costs.
The Family Court expects and encourages mediation as an alternative to court proceedings. There was a firing shot by a Judge recently regarding unnecessary private law applications. To quote the Judge and what he said to both clients and lawyers “You should settle your differences (or those of your clients) away from court, except where that is not possible. If you do bring unnecessary cases to this court, you will be criticised, and sanctions may be imposed upon you. There are many other ways to settle disagreements, such as mediation.”
 Re B (A Child) (Unnecessary Private Law Applications)(2020) EWFC B44