In The Times on Monday 25th January, an interview with an experienced divorce lawyer gives some indication of the increasing belief among professionals in the field that Court is not an appropriate place for separated couples to deal with their issues, particularly where there are children involved. She explains that the turning point for her came when she was negotiating the release of pet hamsters from a mother whose daughters had chosen to live with their father. She decided at that point to change her practice from traditional law to mediation.
In the same article, Lord Wilson of Culworth, Justice of the Supreme Court writes about ‘the huge frustration’ in the profession that couples still don’t use mediation. ‘Family mediation has vast untapped potential for saving costs for those couples as well as procuring an outcome more satisfactory than we judges are likely to devise.’ Support from the Judiciary and divorce lawyers is essential in helping to pass the message of mediation to the public and to change long seated attitudes that separating couples need to go to Court.
Taking into account the deep emotions that often accompany a separation, using the law to express their hurt often means rifts between parties grow deeper, and that a high price is paid in both financial and emotional terms. Often parties want to see ‘justice’ and are convinced that the law will be on their side, serving up ‘just desserts’ to their ex. Having a lawyer ‘on your side’ can feel powerful, however it is often the case that powerful emotions come into play which makes parties ‘battle’ at all costs. By contrast, mediators work with the couple together, providing impartial guidance to help ex-partners come to an agreement.
At MyMediation we understand that separation causes a range of emotions, particularly grief and anger and that both parties may not be feeling the same emotions at the same time. This is particularly vital when considering the timing of any process. Parties in a sensitive emotional state may not be able to negotiate or make decisions about finances or children. Mediation is not relationship counselling however, but by acknowledging and understanding parties’ emotional states, we can help them to find ways to move forward and achieve practical solutions to the issues that need resolving.