What are the benefits of mediation in family disputes?
The benefits of mediation include time saving, cost, the ability of both parties to communicate frankly, and a less adversarial context.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution process which can be a helpful method of resolving issues arising in family disputes. Mediation has become a forum preferred by many as an alternative to the court system.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a formal process by which a neutral third party, known as the mediator, helps disputing parties resolve their issues. The mediator does not take sides with either party and instead focuses on facilitating discussion between the parties.
The presence of the mediator aims to create a more comfortable environment where parties can put forward their position in a considerate and persuasive manner.
The benefits of mediation
Mediation is generally a voluntary process. This means that participants can choose when and where they would like the mediation to occur. In this way, mediation is a more flexible dispute resolution process than court. Other important benefits of mediation include:
- Mediation is more time effective
- Mediation is cheaper than court processes
- Mediation is less formal than court and hence is less procedural
- Mediation can better preserve the relationship between both parties
- Mediation allows for parties to speak directly to each other, or via their lawyers
Other benefits to mediation
- Generally the cost of mediation is split between both parties equally
- Legal representation is encouraged but not mandatory
- Mediation allows for parties to brainstorm solutions together in a collaborative way.
Hence, mediation allows participants to retain greater control over the outcome of their dispute. Parties are able to actively give their input and only agree to solutions they regard as beneficial. This differs from court processes, where the Court will ordinarily reach a legally binding outcome that must be followed by parties whether they agree with the order or not.
What exactly does the mediator do?
In a mediation, the mediator:
- Communicates with both parties
- Ensures that each party understands the advantages of settling the dispute within the mediation process by outlining how costly and time-consuming court processes would be
- Differentiates between a party’s position and their interests and vocalises the party’s underlying needs if they are not made explicit
- Helps to repackage issues and solutions such that they are tailored to each party’s interests
- Creates a comfortable and honest environment.
Circumstances where mediation is not available
Whilst mediation is a beneficial process for most families, there are some circumstances where it is not available. These circumstances include:
- Where the family has a recognised history of domestic violence
- Where the matter is extremely urgent.
It is notable that in families where there has been a history of family violence, mediation can instead exacerbate the power imbalances between victim and abuser. Hence, in these situations, a court order may be a better option to resolving a dispute.
If you need any assistance regarding a family dispute matter please feel free to reach us via the contact form.
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