Choosing the right mediator can be crucial to a successful outcome. Nockolds offer a number of options to clients when offering to help when things go wrong at home. We think it is a good idea for the government to back couples or parties trying to keep matters out of court. It will not be suitable for all parties as you cannot force an unwilling party to mediate. Mediation has to be built on a degree of trust and goodwill for both willing parties.
Mediators come from a number of backgrounds. People offering mediation can range from volunteers, family friends, voluntary organisations and charities to counsellors and therapists, business people and professionals.
The advantage of family solicitor mediators for us is clear. We offer a unique selling point. We are used to dealing with people who display a range of emotions at a difficult time. It’s a normal part of our job. We therefore understand our clients and their needs. We are also highly skilled at negotiating. This is what we do every minute of our working day.
I have seen many good mediation proposals that come to me as mediators always advise that legal advice should be taken before any agreement is given the final stamp of approval. However, there is nothing worse than seeing an agreement that is unworkable or manifestly unfair to one party. This is most likely to occur in family solicitors’ experience where mediators do not understand the way the law works - i.e. they are not family solicitors.
The effect can be catastrophic. A family solicitor in this situation will advise if an agreement is not complete or if it is hugely unfair to their client. The result is that the parties risk their agreement being broken apart. This is because either the solicitor will advise against the agreement or when the agreement goes before the court for final approval (to make it legal and binding) it will be rejected. All the good work done by a couple could be at risk of being wasted. This is not what both parties want as going into mediation in the first place can be tough enough.
Proposals are therefore much more likely to succeed all around if the people doing the mediation, i.e. solicitor mediators, are assisting the couple. It is our territory. We know what the law is and how it works and how it will work in practice for both parties.
We are not saying that there are not some fantastic mediators out there from different backgrounds. We can get them on board to co-mediate when we think it will help. However, our advice (sounds a bit lawyer-ish, doesn't it?) is to work with a solicitor mediator.
We undergo long and rigorous training to be able to call ourselves solicitor mediators. With the right couple going into mediation for the right reasons we can get the right result that is acceptable for the benefit of the whole family, with the proper seal of approval all round.