This week is Family Mediation Week. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of family mediation and of the benefits it can bring to separating families.

Mediation can be a cost effective and positive way of resolving the issues that arise on separation and relationship breakdown; including financial settlements and parenting arrangements. The mediation process provides a confidential and safe space for couples to discuss and work through the issues that have given rise to the relationship breakdown and work towards a long term solution.

Choosing your mediator is extremely important. They are independent and neutral. Their role is to facilitate a conversation that results in both participants reaching an agreement. The mediator does not tell either person what to do, but they create an environment that facilitates both parties reaching an agreement they feel content and comfortable with. The identity of that mediator plays a big part in that process. They need to understand the issues, both emotionally but also from a legal perspective. A specialist family law trained mediator will have a wealth of experience of complex and difficult family cases and can combine this expertise with their role as a trained mediator. The mediator also needs to be someone both parties can trust and feel supported by.

Anyone considering mediation should not be put off by the current position regarding face-to-face and online sessions. Virtual meetings can provide the ultimate flexibility in terms of location and timing, and the online setting can provide some much needed distance in high conflict situations. Many mediators are now offering both options.

Mary Gaskins, a Director in the Family Team, with over twelve years’ experience in family law, is currently completing her training to become an accredited mediator, specialising in complex financial settlements on separation and divorce and also arrangements for children.

Written by Carrie Stoneham (Associate Solicitor)