By Sarah Cornes
This time of year can create unprecedented pressures on families and the New Year can, sadly, usher in unwelcome changes, such as family breakdown and separation. Many family practitioners see an upturn in new clients at the start of the year, but not all practitioners are alike if truth be told. It is worth making sure your family lawyer is experienced and has the depth of skills that you need for the journey you are about to embark on.
At TWM, we specialise in the full range of family law issues, but, more importantly, negotiation, along with collaborative law and mediation, is at the very heart of our practice. Apart from a fringe of cases which require immediate court action, it is often far better (and much cheaper) to engage in dispute resolution and to focus on common ground and not just the differences.
Taking place in January, Family Mediation Week* aims to raise awareness of mediation and for very good reason. The benefits are manifold and include:
Benefits of Mediation
Giving the clients more say and control about what happens, which is in contrast to the court where the Judge will make the decisions. This is very empowering for the clients who cannot be compelled to agree to anything and can also opt out if they wish to.
The mediator will provide a safe environment while facilitating constructive discussions and addressing any power imbalances. This should make it less stressful and minimise conflict between the clients.
The environment of mutuality and confidentiality often improves communication, empathy and trust, which helps to preserve future relationships.
It is more creative and flexible and allows for bespoke solutions tailored to the needs of the clients/family. Also, agreements can be changed when circumstances change.
It is often quicker and cheaper and provides a better way to sort out disagreements than protracted and often bitter court battles.
Compliance with the mediated agreement is usually high because the clients have worked together to create solutions for themselves.
Mediation often focuses on the interests of any children involved and encourages clients to recognise and accept that, while a separation/divorce may terminate their personal relationship, they nonetheless remain parents and need to work together constructively for the sake of their children.
Mediation helps to minimise stress and conflict by encouraging fruitful discussions between clients in a safe environment, which often has the benefit of protecting children from harmful exposure to anger, confrontation and the messy details of their parents’ divorce.
Long and/or acrimonious court battles can often expose children to family conflict who can get caught in the middle of the arguments. This can cause huge anxiety and long lasting consequences for a child’s sense of identity and confidence. Mediation defuses this.
Mediation often assists in developing optimal co-parenting relationships as well as ongoing parental co-operation. Agreements reached through mediation are more likely to be adhered to by the parents, due to the fact the parents, having control over the process, are often better able to develop custom-made outcomes to meet their children’s unique needs and requirements.
Mediation can be much quicker and cheaper which means there is more money and mental reserves and resources to spend on the children.
If you need any discreet advice or legal assistance in relation to separation or divorce, please do not hesitate to speak to us about mediation and the other dispute resolution techniques we can offer.
*Family Mediation Week is taking place 20-24 January 2020.
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