Why divorce mediation is better than going to court
We often hear that Mediation is “better for the children” – but how many people really understand the benefits overall?
In this video interview by Alternative Divorce Guide Suzy Miller, with Divorce Mediator John Stebbing of Stephen Rimmer LLP, John explains why using divorce Mediation instead of the Courts is a wise choice, and illustrates his assertions with a moving tale of a divorcing couple where the father is being denied access to his 3 children. Below, the interview continues with John’s colleague, Wendy Still, who is also a divorce Mediator.
John explains how the adversarial nature of divorce came about historically, but how this no longer needs to be the way the process is carried out. He shares a story about a family with three children who have not been able to see their father for 3 years, but through using mediation techniques even at the late stage of the case being handled by the courts, a clever resolution was found.
The edicts from the court were in practice unrealistic, asking a father to write letters to his small children as his only way of contact with them – yet the poor father had no way of knowing what to write because he had no knowledge of the daily lives of his children. This whole process was taking a very long time with long gaps between court dates, which was leaving his children feeling that he didn’t care about them as he was struggling to know what to write to them.
John used his mediation skills to help the couple to communicate, and by the father learning more about his own children’s lives from talking – with the aid of Mediation – with the mother, he was then able to have something meaningful to write in the letters to his children, and the route to greater access was therefore made more likely.
Even though the mother of the family made using Mediation untenable during the earlier divorce process, by being able to use his skills with a family who are in an ongoing court battle, John rightly argues that Mediation is always going to be better for families than the court processes, even if it is used late in the process.
Wendy Still works as a divorce Mediator with John at Stephen Rimmer LLP, and she addresses Mediation with a degree of flexibility, and openness about the clear benefits:
“I suppose I would say that Mediation helps the parties reach an agreement which is suitable to meet their needs rather than a court directing what will happen in theirs and their children’s lives, and as they know what will work best for them, its probably more appropriate for them to decide how their lives will move forward.”
Wendy also points out the financial benefits and the better long-term relationships between the family members that ensues from using Mediation:
“I think I would also say the obvious – that Mediation can be much cheaper, quicker and preserves relationships between the parties, whereas court proceedings can demolish any existing relationship because of the acrimony court proceedings generally engender – intentionally or not.”
Some people are nervous about Mediation and benefit from attending an initial MIAMS session where you learn about how it works and what you can expect from the process. Even people who are dead against it are usually acting out of fear of the unknown:
“My recent experience has been that even if the parties or one of them doesn’t think mediation will help or work, they are surprised once they have attended at how helpful it ends up being. It is, of course, now a statutory requirement (at least a MIAMS is), therefore the best that can happen is that they reach a suitable compromise between them enabling each party to move on with their lives.”
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