Mediators ask clients at Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) how they are feeling and coping after a separation. It’s vital that a mediator listens carefully and hears (separately) from each client about their concerns, fears and hopes, so they can manage the process effectively and facilitate discussions to generate possible solutions. If a client feels that their ex doesn’t listen to them fully or monopolises conversations, then that’s important information for the mediator. The mediator is trained to ensure that discussions in mediation are fair and balanced. They aren’t referees. I liken the role to a music conductor – they provide focus, direction and balance.
Worst Aspects of Divorce
Clients & their greatest fear
So what do clients fear most from divorce? From my experience (family solicitor and now full-time family mediator) they fear loss and the uncertainty that separation creates. Couples never have complete certainty over their future. However they have constants that create a level of security. These constants include their home, relationship, income, future pensions and possibly savings. Plans for the future are now up in the air and the ‘safe’ foundations are shaken or lost.
A separation is often initiated by one party. The person left behind may feel resentful that their ex made a unilateral decision that created uncertainty and hardship. Communication is poor and co-parenting is very difficult. The partner who ends the relationship may feel frustrated and believe their ex is stalling and trying to thwart their plans to move forward. At this point, separating couples are often expected to resolve issues concerning co-parenting, housing and income – it all feels a bit overwhelming. An initial appointment with a solicitor can provide much-needed support. Your solicitor is on your side and can give you advice about what’s in your best interest, but how do you separate finances and child arrangements with your ex?  The solicitor has provided a buoyancy aid – but what if your ex won’t agree to what you have been advised is a fair settlement? Your solicitor may suggest family mediation, but it’s voluntary and means sitting down and talking to your ex (perhaps the last thing you feel like doing).  What if you don’t get what you are entitled to that way?  For some people going to court can feel a safer bet. You can present evidence to a Judge and surely they will see that you haven’t been treated fairly and that you need the settlement you want? It may also feel cathartic to channel your anger and frustration in to a court battle. It’s understandable some people think ‘I will show him’, or ‘I won’t let her get away with this’. However, court cases are expensive and seldom give the litigant what they want. Costs and emotions can snowball out of control you may spend more on the litigation than you were arguing about.  It’s hard to be objective and in the long-term many couples regret litigating.
Many clients tell me their biggest fear is their uncertain future. If couples can resolve issues amicably then that’s ideal, and their solicitors can help make the arrangements binding. Court proceedings are a huge gamble – there’s no certainty – although you can expect relations to deteriorate further (not ok if you have children together) and the litigation costs are often disproportionate to any gain.   Court timescales are also inconsistent – but consistently long! Don’t expect a quick solution via litigation. The Judge will try to find fairness and meet everyone’s needs as far as is realistically possible  – there is actually unlikely to be a winner and a loser and that’s what litigants hope for; ‘I want to win and be proven right.’
If you mediate you will usually have to face one another (although mediation in separate rooms is possible in certain circumstances). It’s not fun and the sessions aren’t something I think anyone looks forward to. However, you will save time and money, the process is quick, and efficient and you will retain some control over important decisions about your future. If you don’t agree to something in mediation then it can’t happen. Clients often tell me that mediation can’t proceed as they can’t agree with their ex. I tell them that mediation is a process for people who can’t agree. As long as you are prepared to listen and appreciate that you can’t impose decisions on the other person, then mediation can often help. It’s very practical and future focused. We gather information about your finances; including capital, income and expenditure needs. We consider housing needs and between sessions you will be given homework to progress well at next session. This is likely to include checking your mortgage capacity and any suitable available housing. It then becomes clear what you both need and we consider how both your needs can be met. Sometimes we find that something that’s important to one person is less important to the other – a trade-off can then occur.
Mediation is a proven and effective way to help people move forward and find some security for their future. Your solicitor can advise and support you in-between sessions and you won’t lose their support. They can then help you to make your decisions legally binding.
Call us on 01908 231132 for further information or to book a Mediation Information & Assessment Meeting (MIAM). Read more about family mediation (including our client testimonials) at Email: