Myths and Misunderstandings about Mediation
Mediation is growing in popularity and my practice has never been busier. There is more information than ever about mediation in the public domain yet the same questions myths and misunderstandings exist. Below are some of the most common things I hear:
- We’ve already been to Relate/couples counselling and that didn’t help. Anyway, I don’t want to reconcile.
It’s true that family mediation brings together individuals who are separating but it is not the same as counselling. It is a process intended to help improve communication so those involved can reach their own agreements about their separation and matters flowing from this.
- I have to go to mediation to get divorced
The legal process of getting divorced does not require either party to meet a mediator. It’s only when someone wishes to make a court application relating to either finances or children issues that there is a requirement to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM).
- Our mediator will tell us what to do if we can’t agree
In mediation you make your own decisions. The mediator will provide you with guidance and legal information in a non-judgmental way enabling you to explore your options and make your own decisions. The mediator will not give each of you specific legal advice about your situation but should instead be seen as part of a team of professionals who is available to help you at this time.
- Mediation won’t help me because I don’t understand about finances
If there are financial issues to resolve, the mediator will work with you to ensure full financial information with supporting documents are provided. This information is provided on an “open” basis and can be taken back to either participant’s lawyer if help is needed analysing this. The mediator will help to ensure the disclosure is complete and the information is understood by both.
- There’s no point going to mediation as the agreements we reach won’t be legally binding
Mediation provides a safe environment to consider all options. Discussions concerning agreements are confidential and cannot be referred to in any subsequent court proceedings. If an accord is reached your mediator can provide a written record of this – usually in a document known as a Memorandum of Understanding. This Memorandum is taken back to your lawyers who can do what is necessary to turn it into a legally binding court order.