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OPTIONS IN FAMILY MEDIATION: HYBRID AND CHILD INCLUSIVE - Lind Lamb

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Mediators and family lawyers keep expanding the options available to couples to resolve issues. Below is more detail about 2 options available.



HYBRID MEDIATION

Resolution, the professional body for family lawyer, are training family mediators in an advanced form of mediation which has some similarities to civil mediation. This “hybrid” mediation process allows the mediator to have separate meetings with the couple as individuals, which makes it suitable for high conflict cases and those where one feels more vulnerable. Each party is supported by their lawyer.


In “hybrid” mediation your lawyer would be with you during the mediation to provide you with legal advice and guidance when needed. They would sign the mediation agreement. The expectation is that the lawyers will be involved throughout in the following ways, depending on how complex your circumstances are:

  • Attending a preliminary meeting.

  • Supporting the process throughout.

  • Providing information including form E.

  • Attending some sessions, especially private meetings.

  • Liaising as the process develops (possibly by phone).

  • Drafting settlement documents.


Mediators with this training may also be brought into assist if there is an impasse in:

  • The collaborative process through separate meetings with the couple.

  • Solicitor led negotiation.


This “hybrid” mediation model places the couple in a legally supported environment. If they are unable to resolve all issues a jointly appointed independent Arbitrator can supply a determination/award quickly.

The expectation is that the lawyers will be involved throughout in the following ways:

  • Attending a preliminary meeting.

  • Supporting the process throughout.

  • Providing information including form E.

  • Attending some sessions, especially private meetings.

  • Liaising as the process develops (possibly by phone).

  • Drafting settlement documents.


CHILD INCLUSIVE MEDIATION

Why choose child inclusive mediation?


When parents (or others with parental responsibility) separate, they are often concerned about the potential impact on their children. Accommodating the feelings and needs of children and young people at a time when parents themselves are facing a range of difficult decisions can be very challenging. Children often feel torn between their two parents (divided loyalties) and may struggle to have honest conversations with their parents while emotions are running high.


Mediation is a process that helps parents to work co-operatively to make joint decisions about their children’s future before, during and after separation. Mediation encourages parents to keep their children’s needs at the centre of any new arrangements.


How can child inclusive mediation help?


Child inclusive mediation is a special mediation session with only the children and the mediator present. Children often benefit from having their own arena to express their views to someone neutral.


Children appreciate being invited to give their opinion without having to make any decisions. Parents feel that their children are being supported and that they have someone to talk to. Child inclusive mediation encourages parents to listen to their children’s ideas and to make good decisions.


Preparing for the session:


  • The mediator will discuss arrangements with the parents before organising a confidential meeting with the children where neither parent is present.

  • Parents are advised not to pressurise, brief or ask searching questions of their children prior to, or immediately after their meeting with the mediator.

  • Children will have the opportunity to voice their point of view about their family, situation and changes.

  • Children’s views will be respected, no pressure added, and the meeting will be friendly and informal.

  • Children will not be asked to make decisions about future child arrangements.

  • Children choose with the mediator what, if anything, they wish the mediator to tell their parents. The session(s) are confidential (subject to safety exceptions).

  • No written reports are provided to the parents or to any other body.

  • The mediator may suggest other support services for the children e.g. counselling.

Linda Lamb is the Managing Partner of LSL Family Law, an accredited family solicitor with Resolution, a children arbitrator, a collaborative lawyer, and an accredited family mediator with the Law Society and the Family Mediation Council. Linda is also qualified to provide child inclusive mediation and hybrid (solicitor-inclusive) mediation. www.lslfamilylaw.co.uk/meet-linda-lamb/



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