Mediation provides clients with a “safe” environment in which to discuss their issues. In court a judge or magistrates will make decisions about your life / the lives of your children, which will then be binding. You may not agree with the court’s decision and may feel that the outcome does not work and / or is not fair. In mediation, all decisions are made by the clients themselves; the mediator just provides support and information to help you make those decisions.
Any agreement that comes out of mediation will therefore be something that you have decided to do. If you are unable to find anything that both parties are prepared to do, then you leave without an agreement, which is how you came in. This is the worst case scenario for mediation, whereas for court the worst case scenario is you leave with something you absolutely do not wish to do.
Mediation is less stressful and less anger inducing.
Negotiating via solicitors can avoid having to communicate directly with an ex-partner, but solicitor’s letters are often very stressful, scary and angering to receive. The process is also very slow and can be frustrating. Overall this route, whilst it does sometimes succeed in resolving things, can often lead to people becoming more entrenched, worried and angrier, which makes dealing with issues in future even harder.
Going to court is usually very worrying and stressful. Again it can leave people feeling angry, frustrated and disappointed. The court process tends to be slow, which means that these emotions can be experienced relentlessly for a prolonged period which can be exhausting and draining. At the end of a court process it is often the case that both parties are upset at the outcome. Whilst it is generally possible to predict the kind of outcome that courts will arrive at, it is often hard to predict the detail. As a result it can be the case that neither person gets what they expected and carry feelings of anger and resentment forward into their future dealings.
Both solicitor negotiation and the court process tend to be adversarial in nature. A court will decide which client is more right and which is more wrong. Solicitors represent the interests of only one client, but the reality is that outcomes in a family scenario must take account of the needs of all parties. Mediation is a practical process in which a neutral professional helps their clients identify and assess the options that they have, and puts them in a position to decide which option best meets their needs.
As a process, this practical, collaborative approach can leave both people feeling more content with the outcome, more in control of their lives and less resentful of the process and the outcome. It helps people retain their dignity through what is always a very difficult time.
Mediation is easier for the children.
If children are involved, the parents will have to find ways of making arrangements / co-parenting in future. Mediation is better able to improve communication between parents and establish ways of working together than either court or solicitors. Any arrangements that are made for the children will inevitably have to be changed occasionally and adapt as the children get older and the parent’s lives change. Mediation provides a more flexible system through which changes can be made and principles agreed that will help parents make decisions in future. Mediated agreements tend to be much more flexible and “user friendly” than court orders or solicitor negotiated plans. In addition, if the children are to be involved in the actual discussions, mediation is much less stressful and frightening for them than the court process. Child Inclusive Mediation (CIM) is a child friendly means to enable the children to express their thoughts and feelings about the situation, without making them responsible for any decisions reached. The court version of that process tends to be muc more intimidating and scary for the children.
Mediation is quicker and cheaper.
Government statistics show that family litigation is approximately 400% more expensive than mediation. In addition family litigation is on average more than 400% slower than mediated cases.