Family mediation is a holistic approach to conflict resolution. Unlike adversarial methods like going to court, it emphasises collaboration and open communication. The process involves a neutral third party, known as a family mediator, who facilitates discussions and guides the parties toward mutually agreeable solutions. Family Mediation offers a flexible, collaborative and bespoke process to allow people to have productive discussions about issues they are facing. The mediators are highly trained and skilled in helping to recognise issues and in making suggestions to help move discussion forward which can often include bringing in a third party. With mediation becoming a more common and widely successful process to reach amicable resolutions, many people still have questions. This article answers questions about who you can bring into Family Mediation with you and the answers may be surprising!
Can I bring my new partner to Family Mediation?
Not usually, no. But every situation is different so discuss it with your mediator. The mediator will need to know why you wish your new partner to be there as whilst it may be morally supportive to have your partner in mediation, the process is designed to give the individuals within Family Mediation a safe space to have productive discussions. Your mediator will ensure that these discussions are polite and that both people are able to talk and importantly actively listened too as well.
The mediator will need to make sure that you each feel supported, and it is often better to try to achieve this without bringing in the potentially tricky dynamics of new partners, but every situation is different.
Avenues to pursue when introducing a partner to Family Mediation.
If you’d like your new partner to be there because you feel threatened, the mediator needs to know this too- if there has been domestic abuse within the relationship, then Family Mediation isn’t automatically ruled out, but the mediator will need to know so that they can actively manage the mediation sessions and keep you both safe. This can involve either both of you being in separate rooms, known as ‘shuttle mediation’ or it could be done remotely so that you are both in a separate and safe place.
If you’d like your new partner there as you are worried you won’t understand information being given within Family Mediation, then again speak to your mediator. The mediator will be actively asking questions to ensure that both parties understand all the information that is being discussed and provided but can make sure that this is done in a sensitive way.
If you are still worried then it is also possible to (with agreement) have a professional counsellor or divorce coach within the mediation session whose role is to support, but not to speak for you. Again discuss this with your mediator to see what steps can be taken to make sure you are both actively able to participate in the mediation process.
Can I bring my solicitor to mediation?
Yes! With agreement, solicitors can attend mediation joint sessions and it is often helpful to have your solicitor there to be able to give legal advice to you, to help narrow issues and allow you to make more progress in each session. Your Family Mediator, (even if they are also a solicitor) can only give you legal information, not legal advice and so having this advice immediately available will mean that realistic proposals can be put forward and time is not wasted discussing proposals that are unworkable.
Solicitors can attend any Family Mediation session with agreement but ‘Hybrid mediation’ is designed to have solicitors involved at an early stage and your Hybrid mediator will be able to set parameters and make sure that everyone understands how the process will work- your solicitor will not be there to speak for you but rather to give you advice as the process goes on.
Having your solicitor in Family Mediation with you, may also reduce stress, make you feel more at ease and more supported as well as more confident to negotiate and make concessions.
Can I bring my Child to Family Mediation?
There may well be times when both parents feel that their child or children should have an input into arrangements that are being discussed about them in mediation. In this instance the child is not brought into the same Family Mediation session as their parents, but they are seen separately by a separate ‘Child Inclusive Mediator’.
The Child Inclusive Mediator has been specially trained to speak to children and to listen to their views and a meeting can be offered to a child to take place at an agreed neutral venue provided the child also wishes to speak to the Child Inclusive Mediator. The child can say if they do not want their views to be shared with their parents and they are always told that they are not being asked to make decisions, but rather being given a chance to let their parents know anything they would like them to know when they are making those decisions about them together. The mediator feeds back into the mediation process the views that child has expressed to them and that they have allowed the mediator to share.
It can be very useful for, especially older children to have an opportunity to express their views in a safe way and for parents to hear what children are really saying to be able to take this into account when discussing arrangements for their child or children. Children can only participate in mediation if both parents agree and if the child wishes to.
Can I bring my Accountant to Family Mediation?
Yes! Bringing in an expert third party is regularly done with agreement of both people to assist with negotiations. Accountants, pension experts, mortgage advisers, property valuers can all join a joint session as needed to provide specialist information to help move forward with negotiations and it can be extremely useful to be able to hear the same information and ask any questions of an expert within the Family Mediation session rather than having to pause mediation to go away and get the advice/information.
Family Mediation comes in all shapes and sizes which allows the process to be flexible to meet the individual needs of the participants and their unique situation- your mediator will be able to make suggestions to help move negotiations forward but if in doubt, speak to your mediator.
Moving Forward with Moore Barlow
At Moore Barlow, we understand the significance and the transformative potential of Family Mediation. Our experienced team is dedicated to guiding individuals through the mediation process and the subsequent stages of mediation, ensuring a supportive and constructive approach to resolving family disputes.