Last night saw the first episode of Mr v Mrs: Call The Mediator aired on BBC2. Whilst family mediation has featured in the fictional story lines of Coronation Street and Emmerdale, this documentary series offers a real life insight into the world of family mediation.
Even though mediation should be the first port of call for resolving family disputes, people are still generally of the opinion that using solicitors and courts is the way to sort things out. Earlier this year a senior judge expressed their huge frustration that couples still don’t use mediation. This documentary will hopefully go some way to get people talking about the benefits of family mediation with ‘call the mediator’ becoming the usual response to family disputes rather than ‘see you in Court’.
In the first episode we meet Sue and Peter (divorcing but unable to agree on how to share their money), Martin and Nicky (unable to agree when and how Martin should see their children) and Jason and Vicky (unable to communicate about co-parenting their daughter). If you missed it - you can watch again here.
In each case, the viewer sees the issues that need resolving plus the emotional turmoil that accompanies separation and divorce. One of the benefits of mediation is that mediators understand that separation causes a range of emotions. At some point in the hour long programme we see each couple experiencing grief and anger, emotions that are common after separation. Acknowledging and understanding people’s emotions is vital to move forwards and achieve practical solutions to the issues that need resolving, particularly where children are involved. Mediation is not relationship counselling, but by going through the process of mediation a level of communication can often be established which will help support any agreements reached.
Like Martin and Nicky, Jason and Vicky and most of the couples we work with, the transition from being in a relationship to having a co-parenting relationship is not easy. Family mediation can help to shift perceptions and deal with different viewpoints in order to help separating couples find a way forward. In addition, studies show that, on average mediation is four times quicker, plus cheaper than going to court.