Often the biggest challenge in mediation is getting both parties to agree to participate in the mediation process. Except where mediation has been ordered by the court, the mediation process can only proceed if both parties agree to participating. Which leads to the question: How do I get my ex to agree to mediation?
Choose a mediator your ex-partner would be comfortable with
Begin by researching some options around family mediation and choose two or three mediators you feel meet the unique needs of your family situation. Most mediators welcome an obligation free chat before moving to the formal process, so speak to each mediator and learn more about their approach and experience. It’s likely you know your ex -partner better than most and will be aware of their temperament and conscious and unconscious biases – all factors to consider when choosing a mediator. If the aim is simply to get your ex-partner to mediation, then limit the possible excuses – and you know what they will be.
The mediator will contact your ex-partner
Part of a mediator’s expertise involves calling each party individually and explaining in further detail how the mediation will work. Mediators are used to people feeling apprehensive or sceptical and have heard before most concerns people raise. Often it helps for a party to hear from the mediator directly as a neutral third party, rather than only hearing about mediation from you or your lawyer. The mediator will be highly skilled in focusing on the core purpose of the mediation – which in the case of family mediation is focussing on the best interests of the child or children involved and keeping discussions future focussed so that parties can move on in life. It’s a compelling argument.
Be clear that mediation is not counselling
In many scenarios, by the time a mediator gets involved in the dispute, both parties are exhausted and frustrated, so the idea of having to ‘go another emotional round’ seems insurmountable. Mediation can be sometimes confused with counselling – but it is very different. Counselling explores emotional issues, whereas family mediation explores pragmatic issues and is a framework or process aimed at helping parents make decisions around parenting arrangements. It is not a discussion about blame and encourages parties to always focus on what is in the best interests of children moving forward.
Cost is a compelling reason to attend mediation
The cost of mediation is a fraction of the cost of attending court or retaining the services of a lawyer of extended negotiations. The last thing either party wants is the added burden of financial stress on top of the challenges of negotiating parenting. Most mediators have fixed fees so both parties know exactly the cost of the process before they begin. The cost of going to court can heighten negative emotions at a time when each party needs to bring an open mind and a future focus to the negotiation.
Mediation gives equal control to both parties
In court all final decision-making responsibilities sit with the judge presiding over your case. You may spend thousands of dollars and still, the judge does not see things from your perspective. The process of mediation is based on both parties negotiating and agreeing on an outcome together. A skilled mediator helps both sides see the other’s perspective. If one party is concerned about a power imbalance during the mediation, it’s important to know that mediators are well trained to identify this, and part of the mediator’s skill is ensuring the balance of power remains equal between parties.
You don’t have to be in the same room together – online mediation is a good option
Sometimes it’s easier on parties if they are not in the same room together. Sitting across a table from an ex can trigger a wide range of emotions, from nostalgia to anger. Online mediations remove this emotional barrier. Usually conducted on Zoom (an easy-to-use video conferencing platform), online mediations enable parties to participate from the familiar comfort of home – which also helps settle nerves.
Mediation allows you to move on with life, quickly
Often the common ground between parties is a mutual desire to move on from this chapter in life. Relying on court to rule on family matters is not only costly but is a long and drawn-out process that can take years. There are several reasons why cases stall in an already overburdened system, leaving both parties stuck in a constant state of limbo – which will have negative impacts on the parents and children involved. Court is the least efficient and most expensive place to resolve conflict. Mediation can often take simply a half or full day or a couple of half day sessions.
If all attempts fail, then your solicitor may need to contact your ex to begin court proceedings. The formality of this process is often a final (and highly effective) motivator to bring the other party around to the mediation process, because life’s too short to go to court.
To help you prepare for mediation, we have created a library of helpful information including checklists, tips and added detail around the process of mediation. For useful and relevant information you can download for free, we encourage you to visit our resources page.
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