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What is hybrid mediation?

Hybrid mediation is a take on the well-known, well-used standard mediation. As with all mediation, it is client-led. This means that you as the divorcing parties have control over the discussion, and the resulting settlement is much more tailored.

It is an out-of-court method, but does not affect your ability to take matters to court should discussions break down and further interventions are necessary.

You and your ex-partner are not in the same room (or virtual room) but you each have access to your individual lawyers to provide legal advice and guidance as necessary. The trained mediator will move between each of you, brokering agreements on issues as they arise. They hold information about what each party wants but do not necessarily share this.

Because you have the immediate support of your lawyer on hand, decisions can be reached much quicker than perhaps they can in normal mediation, meaning the process is more efficient and cost-effective.

As with normal mediation, it can work alongside legal proceedings or before these are undertaken.

How is it different to normal mediation?

Mediation is a very effective service for divorcing couples that helps them come to agreements about specific issues in their divorce, for example financial settlements or child arrangements. There are two types of mediation – divorce mediation and family mediation.

The key difference between hybrid mediation and normal mediation is that in hybrid, each party has their lawyer on hand and the divorcing couple are in separate rooms. In normal mediation, usually, the divorcing couple will sit together with the mediator, after an introductory meeting where you have individual conversations with the trained mediator.

Hybrid mediation is sometimes known as shuttle mediation, as the mediator moves between each party.

However, shuttle mediation and hybrid mediation are subtly different as shuttle mediation can take place without lawyers being present in negotiations.

Another difference is that in hybrid mediation, the mediator can call on other professionals, for example financial advisors, psychiatrists, and social workers.

What is it useful for?

Hybrid mediation is particularly useful in cases where there may be safeguarding issues, for example domestic abuse, including narcissistic abuse. The trained mediator can keep any knowledge on such matters to themselves.

Confidentiality is key in hybrid mediation – parties can individually explore options with the mediator, and alongside their lawyer, without raising any expectations.

It is also useful in high-conflict cases where couples are struggling to come to an agreement on a particular issue, such as child arrangements. Hybrid mediation can reduce conflict as it keeps the parties separate and they are more able to focus on the matters at hand.

As lawyers are directly involved in the process, it can increase the certainty of the outcome. It mitigates the risk of not achieving a legally suitable outcome and lessens the chances of the parties changing their minds.

It can also be more cost-effective. Hybrid sessions are often longer than normal mediation sessions, meaning there are fewer of them and often conclusions can be reached more effectively. It works well in cases where one or both parties feel that they want advice, as discussions are ongoing. This can mean hybrid mediation is more time effective, especially when there are complex or emotive issues involved.

It is important to bear in mind that if you undergo hybrid mediation, you will pay for both the mediator and the lawyer’s time.


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