As it is Family Mediation Week I took part in a live Twitter Q & A on Wednesday to answer any questions about family mediation. The question which seemed to generate the most interest was:
“Do I have to sit in the same room as my ex?”
My answer was as follows:
“Usually couples do sit in the same room, but I ensure a second room is available for time apart during a session, or the mediation can be on a shuttle basis with each person in a separate room”.
To explain further, the mediation sessions can be set up such that different arrival times can be arranged so that the couple do not have to come into contact with each other before the session if this is preferred. In addition, I usually arrange for the first person to arrive to be shown into the room and when the other arrives they wait in the separate reception area. This avoids the potential awkwardness of sitting together waiting for the session to commence.
During the sessions themselves I am with the couple at all times, unless one person wants some time apart, in which case he/she can go to another room. Sometimes I co-mediate with a family or financial consultant, to bring in further expertise, and so there are four of us in the session.
Occasionally the couple do not want to be in the same room under any circumstances, in which case they can be in separate rooms. I will shuttle between the two of them, dividing my time with each of them as evenly as possible. The arrival and departure times can be staggered to ensure they do not come into contact. These situations usually occur because of allegations of domestic abuse or a very high level of hostility.
Whilst shuttle mediation is possible, it normally takes a lot longer to resolve matters as messages have to be relayed between them rather than direct face to face discussions taking place. It may be that mediation is not the appropriate option for the couple if it is not possible to discuss matters around the table, in which case I can give information about the other possible options. I meet with each person individually on a separate date beforehand to discuss the mediation process and answer any questions, and at that stage we can discuss whether a person would be comfortable in the same room, and whether mediation is appropriate.
If you have any further questions about mediation or are interested in the process please contact on 023 8071 8878.