What is Mediation (Conflict Resolution)
Mediation for Families and Relationships is a process where a neutral third party with no decision making power – the mediator – helps people to negotiate a settlement to their dispute. One of the most important differences between mediation and the court process (which is called litigation) is that mediation allows people to reach agreements that meet everyone’s interests.
The court process, on the other hand, focuses on opposing legal rights and obligations of the parties. In litigation, one person wins and the other person loses.
Family Law Mediation is a type of dispute resolution based on the cooperation and maintenance of a friendly relationship between separating or divorcing partners. This method consists of a neutral third party who is present during meetings, and assists the parties in coming to an agreement of all issues pertaining to the dissolution of their relationship.
There are two types of family law mediation, including closed mediation and open mediation.
Closed mediation is completely confidential, as nothing is disclosed. Open mediation does not entail any confidentiality and does not prohibit the disclosure of the proceedings or decisions within the mediation.
This form of dispute resolution is client based, in that the parties control the entire process with only the help of a neutral third party. The spouses will be required to co-operate with and listen to each other, while regarding the other’s opinions and needs. If the parties are having difficulties coming to a final decision of an issue, or are having disagreements, the mediator cannot impose a settlement.
The mediator does not act as a lawyer, as well as they do not advise the parties of their legal rights or obligations. The mediator simply acts as a guide within the proceedings, attempting to maintain the communication and consideration of the important issues between the parties.
It is strongly advised that the parties consult with lawyers prior to participating in mediation, as the process can only be fully secured if it is informed, as well as having lawyers present helps to protect the rights and interests of each party, which may result in a more efficient resolution of the issues. Mediation ensures that all decisions made within the proceedings are made in the best interest of all parties, ensuring a fair and peaceful resolution.
Family mediators are there to help you to reach decisions about things that are important for you and your family. They can help you to find a way to plan for the future and to agree what will work best for you without having to go to court. That can save you time, money and stress.
Mediation provides you with the space and time to think about what is most important for your children and for the whole family. You can work out how arrangements for your children will work best and think about what is going to be important for your children as they grow up.
Regardless of whether you are a parent or not, mediation can help you deal with your money, the options you may have about where you will live, and planning your future finances.
When should I try family mediation?
Contact me as soon as you need help sorting things out. Even if you’ve been separated for a while, or if your case has already gone to court, mediation can still help to resolve things.
You can’t usually take your case to court until you find out if mediation can help you first. If you can’t show that you’ve considered it, the judge may stop or delay proceedings until you have.
What does the mediator do?
Mediators are trained to:
> Listen and help you both to work out what has to be dealt with
> Discuss what your options might be and what might work best for the future.
> Make sure you both have chance to speak and be heard
> Provide any information needed to help your discussions
> Tell you when you might need further independent advice on matters
> Ensure decisions are made jointly, are fair for both of you, for any children involved, and for your family circumstances
When you reach agreement, the mediator will put it in writing and make sure you’re all clear about what it means.
MEDIATION IS PRO-ACTIVE
When you choose to go to a mediator–whether for a relationship problem at home or at work, you are saying ”THIS MATTERS!”
That is a big step in the right direction. It actually matters little if you decide to go for mediation because you want the problem to end or you want the relationship to end at that moment. Mediation will help you figure that out.
It’s a wise choice to use a mediator if you want to restore and rekindle your relationship, or you want to end it consciously so that you can co-parent well following a divorce or separation.
MEDIATION IS SHORT-TERM
Mediation is a short-term strategy for creating long-term agreements in specific areas of the relationship. It’s not a long-term commitment to improving the health of the relationship on many levels over time.
MEDIATION IS FOCUSED ON THE PRESENT DESIRE FOR A FUTURE DIFFERENCE
A counselor’s role is different than a mediator’s in this regard: the mediator is not focused on the origins and patterns of behavior that have lead to the current relationship problems. The mediator works with what is to create an agreement both parties can live with in the long-term.
MEDIATORS ARE NEUTRAL
Mediators are trained to be neutral, to view each participant in the mediation as they are at the minute and to take no sides. This is a major difference for the counseling or therapeutic interaction where the focus is on moving towards health for all concerned, including the relationship. The mediator controls the process but cannot influence outcomes, except that factual information such as laws that the mediator may provide may, in fact, influence outcomes. It is NOT the mediator who influences, just the facts.
MEDIATION REQUIRES BOTH PARTIES TO BE PRESENT AND WILLING TO NEGOTIATE
Mediation occurs between two parties. Sometimes, initially, the two parties are willing to negotiate and do so through a mediator, however, they are not ready to sit in the same room. This involves a process knows an “shuttle diplomacy” or “shuttle mediation” where the mediator goes between the parties until they are able or willing to talk directly with the mediator together. This is obviously different from counseling where one person in a relationship can seek counseling without the other ever intending to appear.
I have, however, worked with only one divorcing party to coach that person on how to proceed to get the best settlement for themselves when the other party was disinterested in or hostile to mediation. That is coaching for divorce, not mediation. Mediation only occurs when there are two people with two points of view present.
Good communication among family members is an extremely important part of a psychologically healthy family. Lack of good communication can be extremely detrimental to a family. When communication breaks down, especially between a parent and their child, troublesome situations may arise. What can be done to repair and resolve these situations? Parents-child Mediation may be the resolution.
Communication among family members is a bit like a vehicle. When the vehicle is working properly and operating smoothly, everything is wonderful and trouble-free. Additionally, it can only stay trouble-free with ongoing maintenance like oil changes and tune-ups. However, when the vehicle starts to break down, problems may arise. If the problems are not fixed, it may get worse, and eventually it will break down completely. When the vehicle breaks down, it may cause other problems such as getting to work, or getting the children to soccer practice.
With communication, when it is working properly, everything seems to be great. Family members are happy and life is good. But as soon as that communication breaks down, that’s when the problems begin. Communication must also be maintained in order to keep things going in the right direction.
As technology progresses, communication among family members can now take place in an instant with the push of a single button on a cell phone, the composition of an email, or even an “instant message” on a computer. But do these modes of communication provide a family relationship with the necessary components to grow and flourish? I believe they do not. These new modes of communication are important in certain situations, but should not take the place of face-to-face personal interaction. I believe daily face-to-face interaction is a key to maintaining good communication in the family.
Conflict and disputes at school can also affect families in different ways. I support parents, children, grandparents and other family members to communicate effectively, both with each other and with teachers at school. For children and young people to achieve their full potential and become successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens, the adults around them need to be working together as a team.