WHAT IS FAMILY MEDIATION?
Family mediation is a service to help married and non-married couples who have decided to separate or divorce, or who have already separated.
It is also a service for parents who have never lived together but have a child together and who need to agree parenting arrangements. In certain circumstances, mediation can also assist in disputes within families. Examples of such disputes might include disputes between siblings relative to the care of elderly parents, disputes between mother/father-in-law and daughter/son-in-law, disputes between siblings and many others. The Family Mediator is trained to facilitate mutually acceptable resolutions of conflicts or disputes, fostering better family relationships into the future.
Clients are helped by a mediator to negotiate their own terms of agreement, taking into account the needs and interests of all involved. Mediation is not marriage counselling, a legal advice service, family therapy or counselling. Its main aim is to allow people make their own decisions and hold onto their own power whilst maintaining working relationships into the future.
HOW CAN MEDIATION HELP?
The mediator is trained to facilitate and encourage the separating couple or the parties in dispute to open up and air the dispute/conflict with a view to co-operating with each other towards working out mutually acceptable arrangements. In cases of separating couples, Mediation is seen as useful in working out any or all of the following:
– Spousal and Child Maintenance;
– Division of Property and other Assets;
– Maintenance and Financial Arrangements;
– Pensions and Insurances / Business Assets / Future Inheritance;
– New living arrangements, including that of any Child or Children;
– Issues involving Children including, Access, Custody and Guardianship;
– Issues surrounding the Education and Schooling of Children;
– Family holidays and special occasions (Christmas);
– Succession Issues.
WHAT IS THE MEDIATOR’S ROLE?
– To see the clients/parties together and look at issues to be discussed, explored and agreed;
– To create a climate in which neither party dominates but in which all parties participate fully in good faith;
– To create and maintain an atmosphere of co-operation, responsibility and safety where each party is heard and validated as an individual;
– To help all clients/parties be supported in so far as possible to deal with difficult emotional issues which arise from conflict and which may also prevent them reaching agreement;
– To help both clients/parties reach agreements which are considered practical, workable and fair to all concerned.
In all of this the Mediator is totally IMPARTIAL and maintains utmost CONFIDENTIALITY. Everything discussed during the mediation and any documents prepared for the mediation cannot be used outside of the mediation process for a court process or otherwise.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CHILD CONSULTATION IN MEDIATION?
Sometimes parents disagree about what is best for their children which can often lead to conflict and hostility. One way of dealing with this is for the child or children to become involved in the mediation by talking directly with the mediator without either of their parents being present.
This allows the child to have a voice and to be heard while allowing the parents to remain responsible for any decisions that need to be made. It is important that any child consultation be managed appropriately and sensitively and that it be age appropriate for the child in terms of their ability to understand and make independent choices or decisions. Time is therefore taken in advance, to discuss with you, and with the child exactly what will happen and how mediation works.
WHAT IS ELDER MEDIATION?
Elder mediation may be effective as a preventative measure – to promote and enhance the quality of life for the older person and their family – and as a remedial intervention, to address issues that are impacting on the older person and/or their family. For example, where parent/s wish to leave land, a business or cash to their children following their death, Elder Mediation can ensure that conversations take place in a balanced and respectful manner, allowing for everyone to be heard. Elder mediation can also help in resolving conflicts or dilemmas in relation to care and health issues, financial and legal management issues, dementia onset or end of life decisions. Similarly, absolute confidentiality is a normal part of this process.
MEDIATION IN OTHER FAMILY DISPUTES:
Mediation can be used in many different types of disputes, not just in relation to family law problems. It can assist you in difficult disputes such as those that might arise out of an inheritance situation, where beneficiaries are aggrieved, or children have taken an action under section 117 of the Succession Act 1965 (on the basis that they were not adequately provided for). It may also be useful in resolving adult child and parent disputes, inter-sibling conflicts and grandparent/parent disputes.
HOW LONG WILL THE MEDIATION LAST AND WHAT WILL BE THE OUTCOME?
Mediation for separating couples typically takes 6 to 8 sessions which last approximately one hour each. Child consultations or other family issues may be resolved within a lesser time frame.
Most mediations end with a written document that sets out all the details of the couple’s/parties agreement. In the case of separating couples, this agreement can then be taken to a solicitor to be drawn into a formal written document or Separation Agreement and can form the basis for a Court Order. For this reason, independent legal advice is then recommended so that the agreement can be fully and legally thereafter enforced.
Due to this informal process, costs are kept to a minimum and decisions taken together are more likely to be honoured. Communication and co-operation is promoted, reducing bitterness and distress and parents can more easily remain as partners in childrearing into the future. In this way, parents are helped to manage conflict in a way that promotes the best interests of the child/children and children are enabled to have worthwhile and enriching relationships with both parents.
In cases of Elder Mediation and inter-family conflicts, the benefits are untold in terms of repairing family disputes, maintaining relationships into the future and perhaps settling/resolving old inter-generational conflicts/disputes. Airing grievances, old hurts and perceptions whilst reaching a mediated agreement/resolution which takes into account the views of all parties, can only have positive repercussions for the entire family, whilst also modelling new ways of interaction/conflict resolution for the future generations.