What is co-mediation and how can it help resolve family disputes?

The co-mediation model is where a lawyer mediator works alongside a mediator from a therapeutic background such as therapist, counsellor and psychotherapist. It can offer a powerful skillset mix to assist couples to have a positive experience of mediation and achieve a settlement.

The use of mediation to resolve family law disputes is gathering momentum and rightly so. No longer considered an “alternative dispute resolution” process but quite possibly the main dispute resolution forum now, mediation in its many formats is a wholly positive process that I encourage all separating couples to partake in.

Having trained originally with Resolution and retrained recently with the FMA I’m a convert to the co-mediation approach. There are many dynamics at play when the relationship between partners/spouses breaks down. As lawyers we have experience of and are trained to recognise and deal with some of these relationship issues, whilst of course the main skills we offer are the knowledge of the legal framework within which any settlement needs to be considered and the knowledge of the approach and attitude of the judiciary locally.

However, there are those more skilled to deal with relationship and personality issues and the impact that may have on the couples’ ability to move forward, that’s where co-mediation excels.

In many situations these need to be highlighted, managed and resolved before the couple can truly move on to hear each other and achieve the consensual resolution they aim for within the mediation forum.

What are the benefits of co-mediation?

Too many cite reasons and difficulties as to why mediation would not work when the reality is, absent issues of domestic violence, which comes in many forms and guises and upon which we are trained to assess at the initial assessment stage, or financial non-disclosure, all couples should be able to resolve their disputes in mediation.

With the help of two experienced people from complimentary professional backgrounds who can each individually support and promote an ongoing narrative between the couple placing the needs of any children centre and foremost, the couple can more readily achieve a resolution of their issues for their family as a whole.

The relationship between the co-mediators can also act as a model for the couple to emulate and it can allow for the prospect of humour within the discussions. It avoids the risk of triangulation which has been cited as a concern about the more traditional single mediator model and it gives the feeling of a greater balance within the room.

With co-mediators one can ensure that nothing goes unnoticed be that a subconscious physical or emotional reaction or a specific part of financial analysis affording the chance of a better outcome, with all four people joining together to move the couple towards a comprehensive resolution of their issues.

Some say that the additional cost of a co-mediator is a drawback, but it can in reality save time, issues can be aired and resolved more quickly, and due to the different professional backgrounds of the mediators, there is less risk of the process derailing due to personality or relationship issues being left un- managed.

It is not for all, as a number of couples attending mediation are perfectly able to co-exist with their partner in that environment and have a good level of positive communication. For those for whom that may not be so easy, that should no longer be a barrier to mediation as the co-mediation model provides the perfect solution to address those concerns and offer a better prospect of a positive outcome.

How Moore Barlow can help

We at Moore Barlow offer the co-mediation model as well as the more traditional single mediator and solicitor assisted or hybrid mediation models.

Please do contact us to find out more about these models or to organise an initial mediation information and assessment meeting.