Mediation Focus: What happens if you don’t resolve everything in mediation?
This is the last in our series of blogs looking at family mediation. We’ve talked about what happens in family mediation, what the benefits are, and how children can have their say in the family mediation process. If you haven’t already and you’re interested in family mediation then we’d strongly suggest checking out those blogs.
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Why are you stuck?
If you have managed to resolve some issues in mediation but not all then it can be helpful to ask yourself why you’re feeling stuck. Is there a particular emotional charge attached to the remaining issue? Has something happened that has soured your relationship and made communication more difficult? This can happen when one person forms a new relationship – especially if the person was wary of being honest about this and the other person found out through a third party. It can be helpful to identify what is causing the feeling of being stuck because awareness can then help you to turn to what you can do to get past this issue.
We would always suggest having an honest conversation with your family mediator about this. They will have got to know you in sessions and may have some suggestions for you to try. This might include a change of approach, or some support from another professional (such as a coach, therapist or finance professional where it’s a money issue). Or they may suggest you look at other processes to try to resolve the outstanding issues.
There are a number of other processes that exist to help separating couples to resolve all the issues that crop up. There is no rule that you have to resolve all the issues in one process and sometimes couples do move on from family mediation to using a different process to resolve the last parts of their particular issues. We would always suggest that you identify the root of the stuckness first because otherwise you may just end up stuck in another process.
There are other processes that you can use where you still control what is the outcome for you and your children so you decide what happens next but you change the process and the level of support you have. You might choose to use collaborative practice to resolve the final parts. This can be useful especially if you feel that you have improved your communication through your work in mediation. Or you may feel that the last part of your resolution could be negotiated through your solicitors.
Alternatively you may feel that somebody else needs to make a decision for you about one aspect which you can’t move forward on. If this particular issue is now causing problems in your relationship then you may feel it’s counter productive to continue to negotiate with each other in any form. If you both feel that you would rather a qualified third party made that decision so you could move on then you can either use the court process or you can ask an arbitrator to make a final decision for you on the outstanding issue or issues. Be aware that there are considerable differences in the timescale for these two processes and if a quick resolution is your priority then arbitration may well be the best way forward.
If you feel that it’s a lack of knowledge or understanding that is holding you back then some extra professional support for one of you, or both of you, or you both together (or your children) may well move things forward. If there are questions about pensions then it can often be sensible to involve an expert as they can outline the advantages and disadvantages of different options to you. Pensions can be baffling for many people and it’s almost impossible to make a considered decision about something that you don’t fully understand.
Family mediators are experts in divorce and separation. They are often aware of a huge number of different professionals that exist so sometimes just explaining what help you think you need can be useful because they may know of someone who offers that exact support. Unless you make a habit of getting divorced you are unlikely to know about the plethora of support services so explaining what help you need rather than what professional you’re looking for can be a helpful tool.
Although this is the last in this series of blogs focusing on family mediation we will shortly be turning our attention to communication tips for separating couples so if you’d like to get those blogs and other supportive resources directly into your inbox you can sign up to our free mailing list. We also have a separate mailing list for professionals working with separating couples. This will include details of our forthcoming training workshops and networking events.