How to best prepare your client for their mediation session
If you have a client who has attended a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM), the Mediator has indicated that the case is suitable for mediation, and your client and the other party have confirmed that they are willing to engage in the process, how can you best prepare your client, for the mediation process?
Before your client starts mediation
Your client should have received full details from the Mediator in the MIAM about the mediation process and should therefore have some understanding as to how the process itself is going to work. It would be helpful to provide reassurance to your client about the principles of mediation, that it is voluntary, that the Mediators are impartial, that the discussions they have are confidential (save for some exceptions), and that the outcome rests with them.
It will also be helpful to reassure your client that the Mediators are impartial and that they are not there to take sides but are there to assist them in having their discussions, in a safe and calm environment. For clients with children, it would be beneficial to assure them that mediation is a child focused process and can really assist couples in having discussions that they may find emotionally charged, or difficult. Held in a constructive and amicable environment, the process is very much focused on the children and their needs. Mediators will encourage the clients to co-parent and provide them with useful skills and tips that they can use to assist them in their co-parenting communication.
Finances & mediation
If your clients are going to be discussing finances during the mediation, we would recommend that you inform your client that they will need to provide full, frank, open, and honest disclosure which is the same level that they would give to you as their solicitor and to the Court. It would therefore be helpful for you to inform your client as to what financial information may be required during the mediation process.
In terms of financial disclosure in mediation we use a Form E, Financial Statement, the same as solicitors and the Court use. You can provide your client with a blank Form E and encourage them to complete it, although a Form E will be provided during the mediation session.
Why emotional intelligence is important in mediation
Clients can find the prospects of mediation daunting as it is often the first time that they are going to be faced with the other party in a room at the same time and therefore their emotions can be running high. The Mediators are well trained and equipped to deal with heightened emotions in the process and will already have conducted a safeguarding check as to whether the case is suitable. Therefore, any reassurance that you can provide to your client that they should try to manage their emotions as best as they are able, but that Mediators, of course, will have the skills to deal with this with them.
Some clients may have concerns that they may not have the same opportunity to speak as the other person if they historically have been in a relationship where they feel that the power is not necessarily balanced. In this situation they can be reassured that Mediators deal with, and address, power imbalances in the process, and would be able to support both parties to redress the imbalance. It is also important to know that nothing will be binding on the clients in the mediation process, we are simply exploring options with them in the hope that they can find an outcome that they feel works for them. However, at all times throughout the process they will have the opportunity of seeking legal advice from you as their solicitor, so you will be able to continually guide them through the process.
Encouraging clients to work together
Mediation encourages clients to work together to final outcome. Therefore it is helpful if they have an understanding of their legal position, but that they come to mediation with an open mind to having discussions and finding an acceptable outcome by working together with the other party.
Mediation is a very collaborative process and works well when clients feel supported by their solicitors as well as the Mediator.
We believe it is almost always best to keep family disputes out of the courts, and avoid the expense, delay, and stress, of contested court proceedings wherever possible.
For more information on mediation services contact our specialist family mediators today on 0800 923 2074 or fill in our contact form here.