Should you only use ‘accredited’ family mediators?
An additional accreditation has been brought into force for mediators by the Family Mediation Council – but some solicitor mediators are not applying for the accreditation. One of those mediators is Nadia Beckett, who explains why:
I am not an accredited mediator and having given this matter very careful consideration, I have decided not to become accredited.
I am a Family Law Solicitor and I have been practicing family law for over 20 years and mediation for around 8 years (although I have been a qualified mediator since 1998). I simply do not believe that I need another level of accreditation when I work in the Family Courts everyday!
Only accredited mediators can sign off on the Form FM1 which is the certificate required by any applicant in Family Court Proceedings. However, even though I am not an accredited mediator, I can still conduct mediation.
This does mean that if the mediation breaks down I cannot provide the parties with the appropriate certificate that will allow one of them to make an application to the Court. In those circumstances, I will only take mediations where both parties have agreed to mediate and if the mediation breaks down, I will arrange for one of the parties to receive the appropriate certificate from an accredited mediator and I will also pay for any costs involved.
Ultimately, the divorcing couple is perhaps more likely to choose their mediator by who they connect with best, trust and feel confident in – and this additional layer of accreditation may not be a serious consideration for them.
It does seem however that this additional layer of time and expense for mediators – however well intentioned by the Family Mediation Council – could drive a further wedge between solicitor and non-solicitor mediators.
I wonder if a more collaborative approach would be worthwhile – mediators cross-referring to add benefit to their clients so that a non-soliitor mediator may bring in a solicitor mediator at relevant points to assure that the end agreement is something a solicitor can turn into a viable financial order? Or solicitor mediators accessing counselling and coaching support for clients as their Collaborative Lawyer colleagues (in theory) are more inclined to do?
Assessing a consistent quality of mediation practice is vital – and needed – but is another layer of accredditation that many solicitor mediators feel is a drain on their time and finances to comply with, really the best way forward?