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Navigate the Complexities of Separation and Divorce with Family Mediation

This week is Family Mediation Week. It is designed to be an opportunity to raise awareness around family mediation, and the various benefits it can bring to separating families. The week is run by the Family Mediation Council.

We are joined on the blog by Sushma Kotecha, who is an Accredited Family Mediator, Certified Holistic Life Divorce Coach & Mind-Body Practitioner.

Navigate the Complexities of Separation and Divorce with Family Mediation

As this week is Family Mediation Week (commencing 22 January), it’s crucial to examine the diverse landscape of mediation options available in the UK, each offering unique advantages tailored to the needs of couples navigating the complexities of divorce.

In my role as an accredited family mediator and holistic life coach, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of various mediation models. Let’s explore the array of options available, from traditional in-person sessions to innovative hybrid approaches and delve into the key benefits that family mediation brings to the table, all while shedding light on the government’s impactful £500 voucher scheme.

  1. Traditional In-Person Mediation: Fostering Face-to-Face Dialogue

This classic model involves both parties and the mediator convening in the same room. Traditional in-person mediation emphasises direct communication, providing a structured platform for couples to collaboratively address issues and negotiate agreements. The personal touch and immediate interaction can contribute to building understanding and resolving disputes efficiently.

  1. Shuttle Mediation: A Bridge Between Separate Spaces

Recognising that direct face-to-face communication may not be suitable for everyone, shuttle mediation offers an alternative. In this model, parties are situated in separate rooms (physical or virtual), and the mediator shuttles between them, facilitating communication and negotiation. This approach is particularly beneficial when emotions run high, and a controlled environment is necessary to reach agreements without direct contact.

  1. Online Mediation: A Digital Revolution in Family Resolution

The advent of technology has revolutionised the mediation landscape, especially since the lockdown. Online family mediation, conducted through secure platforms, allows couples to engage in sessions from the comfort of their own spaces. This flexible model not only accommodates busy schedules but also eliminates geographical barriers, opening a broader range of possibilities for effective dispute resolution.

  1. Child-Inclusive Mediation: Prioritising the Voice of the Next Generation

Recognising the profound impact divorce has on children, child-inclusive mediation involves the inclusion of children (usually aged 10 and above) in the mediation process subject to both parents’ consent and consent of the child/ren, ensuring their thoughts and feelings are considered. Skilled professionals, trained in child consultation, provide a voice for the children, fostering a child-centric approach to decision-making.

  1. Hybrid Mediation: Bridging Tradition and Innovation

Drawing inspiration from civil and commercial mediation, the hybrid mediation model involves clients attending mediation sessions accompanied by their lawyers. This collaborative approach combines the benefits of legal advice with the expertise of a mediator, creating a comprehensive and informed decision-making process.

Note: Not all mediators offer all the above models of mediation so you must check with the service provider if you are interested in a particular model of family mediation.

The Overarching Benefits of Family Mediation Versus Litigation

In comparison to traditional litigation, family mediation stands out as a superior alternative in numerous ways where it is safe and suitable to mediate:

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Mediation is generally more cost-effective than lengthy court battles, as it avoids protracted legal proceedings, reducing financial strain on both parties.
  • Time Efficiency: Mediation typically results in quicker resolutions compared to the often time consuming nature of litigation, allowing individuals to move forward with their lives sooner.
  • Preservation of Relationships: Unlike the adversarial nature of litigation, mediation aims to preserve relationships by fostering open communication and mutual understanding, particularly crucial when co-parenting is involved.
  • Empowerment Through Collaboration: Mediation empowers individuals to actively participate in decision-making, promoting a sense of ownership over agreements, rather than having decisions imposed by a court.
  • Emotional Well-Being: Mediation prioritises the emotional well-being of individuals by providing a supportive environment to express feelings and work towards resolution, minimising the emotional toll of divorce.

In March 2021, the UK government launched the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme to encourage separated parents in England & Wales to reach informed agreements efficiently and peacefully.

Initially introduced in response to the Covid-19 crisis, the scheme aimed to support recovery in the family court and promote mediation as a means of resolving disputes. The proven success of the scheme has led to its extension until April 2025.

This is a non-means tested scheme; the only criteria to apply for a £500 voucher (one per family) is that there must be child arrangement issues that need to be agreed and sorted out.

As we approach Family Mediation Week, let us celebrate the diversity of mediation options in the UK, each paving the way for harmonious resolutions, empowered decision-making, and a brighter post-divorce future, with the added benefit of the government’s impactful £500 voucher scheme supporting families on their mediation journey.

Sushma Kotecha is an Accredited Family Mediator, Certified Holistic Life Divorce Coach & Mind-Body Practitioner. She is the author of ‘Holistic Divorce: Sh*t Happens, It’s How You Deal With It That Counts’.

She has over 30 years of professional experience in the divorce sector, and a deep understanding of family law and mediation.

Sushma offers a range of services, including personalised online divorce life coaching, mediation, communication skills and co-parenting guidance. She is committed to helping her clients create harmonious post-divorce lives.

You can find out more about Sushma via her website and her LinkedIn. Follow her on social media on her X and Instagram accounts.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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