Mediation for Families
Conflict is a natural part of family life. Mostly, families sort things out and move on. But that’s not always possible. If the difficulties are unresolved, family life can become a stressful battleground.
Sometimes families split apart causing stress and even feelings of shame and isolation. Where conflict is linked to challenges of ageing, there is often added complexity.
Just as you call on experts to help with many of life’s other problems – from home maintenance to health – mediators offer a set of skills which support families to resolve conflicts or disagreements.
They help people to express what they need, ask questions and look for a way forward in a proven step-by-step process.
You stand to gain understanding, peace of mind and clarity about the future. Mediation for families can help you to re-set or re-build a relationship, come to a decision or agree a joint plan.
Always working as a pair, we have a professional but warm approach. Our mediation meetings are focused and supportive, giving you the best chance of a swift, positive and lasting outcome.
You are very welcome to call us, without obligation, to discuss your situation. We won’t recommend mediation if we feel it is not appropriate.
A brief guide to mediation
The following may help you to decide whether and when to use mediation.
Please note: We don’t provide mediation for couples needing to make arrangements for childcare and finances when separating or divorcing. The Family Mediation Council regulates this area of mediation. It can help you find a mediator who is trained and registered for this specific purpose.
Mediation is an effective way of resolving conflict within families. It offers the possibility of an end to the stress, pain and disruption it causes.
Mediation is not counselling or therapy. But it does deal with human needs and emotions as well as practicalities. Most people who have used mediation say they would recommend it. They find it made a difference to have an expert, neutral third party involved.
It can be used for conflicts between two individuals or between a group. Those involved don’t have to want to be ‘best friends’ (though some do want to restore a previously good relationship). All that is required is that they want to put an end to the conflict and are willing to give mediation a try.
Even if you are considering resorting to the courts to sort out a family conflict, it is worth trying mediation first. The process is more constructive, quicker and far cheaper option. We can usually organise mediation quickly. It can improve or resolve things in a single meeting, sometimes more if there are lots of issues or they are complex.
Family life (or living with friends) throws up a whole range of issues over which people fall out from time to time – practical, behavioural, emotional, moral, financial, lifestyle.
The generation gap between parents, young people and grandparents add further potential for conflict.
New relationships and bereavement are common triggers for tensions. However, transitions of any sort can create or highlight differences. These include the arrival of children, children becoming adults, changing employment status, illness and life-changing accidents.
Getting older and changing needs associated with ageing can also present challenges for families. Our page on Elder Mediation looks at these.
Mediation is an effective way of addressing all kinds of conflict between two or more family members (or friends). Those involved need to be willing to give it a try and be able to make decisions for themselves.
Conflict is a natural and inevitable part of life. People can often sort out problems amicably between themselves. But there will be times when that doesn’t work.
Perhaps the issue has recurred or escalated, or those involved can no longer talk to each other. It may be that other people are being drawn in. Sometimes it can be difficult to get to the bottom of the problem, or there’s no single person that everyone trusts to help sort things out. This is where independent mediators are very helpful.
Mediation is at its most effective before things escalate or become entrenched. However it can help to achieve progress even in long-standing conflicts.
The mediators take people through a step by step process to work out a mutually acceptable way forward.
- voluntary – so that everyone is there in good faith.
- confidential – enabling people to be open and get a clear understanding.
- impartial – so that everyone feels they are being treated fairly
- neutral – ensuring that participants trust that the mediator/s are not influenced by anyone else and have no ‘agenda’.
The mediator’s role
A skilled mediator:
- will listen, ask questions, challenge where necessary, and identify areas of agreement/ disagreement. They’ll ask for ideas, balance contributions, and maintain safety throughout.
- won’t force participation, take sides, make judgements, or blame. They don’t offer suggestions, make decisions or force an agreement.
There is some flexibility in how mediation works, but a typical process is as follows:
- Enquiry/ referral. We consider the background to the conflict, its suitability for mediation, and the practicalities. If the enquirer/ referrer is a potential participant in mediation, we handle this stage with care to ensure we remain impartial.
- We contact each potential participant to see if they wish to get involved.
- Arrangements are made – date, time and venue.
- Introductory meetings. In a private meeting with each person, we hear about the situation as they see it and what they want to achieve. We will not repeat anything we are told in these meetings to anyone else.
- Joint meeting. Then, if everyone agrees, participants come together in a structured meeting to discuss the issues and potential solutions. We keep things constructive and record any points of agreement, including future actions.
- Post-mediation. After the meeting, we send the agreement to participants. This is not a legal document but because everyone has helped to create it they tend to stick to it. (They can go on to make the agreement legally binding if everyone agrees.) Finally, we follow-up with the participants at agreed intervals to see how things are going.
The introductory meetings can take place either at your home or a venue close by. We hold the joint mediation meeting in a neutral venue. We can help with finding suitable affordable venues.
Costs vary depending on the circumstances of the case. We will agree a fixed fee with you at the outset. Our fees for a two-client case progressing to a joint mediation start at £800 (£400/client); we don’t charge VAT. Where needed, we will agree any venue costs with you as well as longer-distance travel. We request payment in advance but in stages so that you only pay for what you receive.
Unlike many other practices, we always mediate as a pair. We are skilled in co-mediating and believe that this approach gives clients the best chance of a positive outcome.
Compare our fees to the costs of solicitors which are likely to be in excess of £200/hour. Our factsheet on mediation may help you to weigh up your options.
Taking the first step
Those caught up in conflict are sometimes reluctant to try mediation. Perhaps it is because they feel things have gone too far or the other person won’t participate. Why not let us help with that? When people hear from someone neutral what mediation has to offer, they are often willing to give it a try. Please contact us to see whether we can help.