Few separations are amicable from start to finish, so it’s common for one or both partners to seek the help of a mediator.
Where there’s dispute over parenting matters, couples with children are legally required to attempt Family Dispute Resolution. Many also choose to simultaneously mediate their financial settlement.
While mediation (FDR) is a compulsory step, it has the potential to support people reach mutually satisfactory, enduring and personalised agreements.
The mediation process comprises an initial 1:1 meeting between each party and a qualified, independent professional mediator, followed by one or more joint meetings. The first meeting is to understand the situation from each participant’s perspective and to ensure that each person feels comfortable working with the mediator. When there are children involved the mediator is ethically compelled to help parents work toward agreements that are in the children’s best interest, taking into account their individual age, temperament, developmental needs and personalities.
Though always remaining impartial, a good mediator will be highly empathetic, listening to each person with kindness and understanding to get to the heart of sensitive, deeply-felt concerns.
More than just a go-between, a good mediator will draw on their years of experience to suggest creative, enduring solutions to previously irreconcilable differences whether in relation to a parenting matter or relating to finances.
Agreements reached in mediation are goodwill agreements but can then be converted into a parenting plan or a legally enforceable Consent Order.
At the Mediation Collective our family mediators work with a range of clients with varied needs:
- Couples seeking financial settlement (no children)
- Same sex couples
- Parents requiring a parenting plan
- Parents seeking financial settlement
- Legally assisted mediations (lawyers present)
- Child inclusive mediations
- Blended family issues
- Issues around relocation
- Issues around schooling
- Section 60i certificates
Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice (ICP) is a dispute resolution process in which the clients, their lawyers and a neutral coach enter into a contract (the Participation Agreement) to resolve a dispute without resorting to litigation. It is ‘law without litigation and mediation with advice.
ICP is a unique dispute process as it offers a ‘team’ (lawyers, a neutral coach, a child consultant (if appropriate) a financial expert or any other professional that may be appropriate) to guide, advise, and support the clients achieve the best outcome for the family as a whole.
The clients and all the collaborative practitioners who sign the participation agreement, commit to an open, honest and transparent process. It is an integrated problem solving approach using interest based negotiation, which focuses on the interests and needs of the clients.
Each client tells their story to and receives their legal advice from their lawyer in front of the other lawyer and their client.
The Participation Agreement provides that the lawyers will no longer act for the clients if the collaborative process breaks down. This provision has the effect of focussing all of the participants to the negotiation on reaching a resolution. It removes the temptation for the clients and their lawyers to posture and/or commence litigation when an impasse arises.
In family law matters it is often the non – legal issues which are driving or causing the problems. When an emotionally loaded issue comes up, as it often does with divorce and separation, solving the problem technically will only address one element of the client’s needs. And this is where a coach can add heretofore unrecognised value to what is at its core a legal process. A coach normally has a background in the social sciences or mental health and so can add a layer of emotional intelligence to the process.
Collaborative practitioners have come to realise what the advertising industry has always known: that it is emotions, rather than rational thought per se, that cause clients to take action. Emotions are what motivate and move them. So if the emotions are dealt with first, the clients can get to a place where rational decisions will be made and outcomes achieved.
Child Consultation is a process that supports separated parents in hearing their child’s “voice” either during or after a separation. It assists parents in conflict to understand separation from their child’s perspective and to make decisions that keep their child’s emotional and developmental needs at the forefront, whilst rebuilding a new parental alliance for the years ahead.
Child consultation is a part of Family Dispute Resolution where parents make an agreement to have their child participate in a meeting with a child consultant. The child consultant is an experienced professional who specialised in working with children and young people whose parents have separated.
Through engagement and gentle assessment, the child consultant helps children and young people to explore their family relationships, identify the impact of parental conflict, and assists children in articulating their experience of the separation. For child consultation to be a meaningful experience for the child, all communication between the child consultant and child remain confidential, and the consultant will work with the child in formulating feedback and information that will assist their parents in their decision making.
The process of child consultation is not a full psychological assessment, but an assessment of how the child is experiencing their parent’s conflict and how their emotional environment is best supporting their growth and development.
Further information about the process of Child Consultation can be provided by your practitioner.
As workplace mediators we are impartial and independent, we bring together a breadth of work experience in various settings as well as our communication and mediation skills. It can be highly valuable to have an independent mediator rather than using someone who is internal to an organisation.
It is our role to provide a structured process where the issues that have been identified are discussed and options are generated and finally agreements are reached so that a working relationship can be restored where possible and if not to evaluate other options.
Here are some examples of workplace issues that we help businesses solve through mediation:
- Interpersonal conflict
- Communication breakdown
- Leadership style differences
- Changing work practices
- Job / role demarcation
- Employment terms and conditions
- Allegations of bullying, harassment and discrimination
Problems can arise at various stages in life. This does not necessarily mean that something is wrong but it may indicate that coaching around the issue might help. With backgrounds in psychology, psychotherapy, counselling, social work and financial planning, the practitioners at The Mediation Collective are ideally placed to help their clients move through whatever life crisis they may be facing. Particular areas of expertise include:
- Collaborative coaching
- Parenting advice
- Money and relationship issues
- Post separation coaching
- Divorce/separation coaching
- Pre-mediation advice and coaching
Meetings with stakeholders of family businesses can be difficult and risky whether they are in the boardroom or in the living room; whether they are with family or with key non-family members and advisors. Such meetings can often begin casually and escalate into conflict. Or, they can be well planned but still not accomplish their intended purpose.
The Mediation Collective believes that conflict in a family business is not about individual disagreements, but is systemic and requires a more comprehensive approach to managing not only the disputes, but the issues which connect these disputes. Our practitioners have the depth of experience and training to address the underlying structural and emotional issues which need to be addressed in order to support the important continuing relationships.
Our experienced advisors help stakeholders prepare and hold effective meetings and help them be better prepared for the inevitable impromptu meeting. The importance of being able to hold productive meetings while managing the inherent conflicts among stakeholders in a family business cannot be overstated. Meetings are how families get things done, how they grow relationships, and how they maintain alignment in their strategic goals and vision. Our practitioners help family members and stakeholders develop the skills to do just that.
Clinical supervision is a process of professional support and learning. It is based on a trusting relationship that aims to provide a safe emotional space in which supervisees can discuss their professional work-related concerns and reflect on their practice.
Clinical supervision is a core competency for all contemporary mediators and a vital part of identifying learning edges and caring for yourself as a person and a professional.
We welcome enquiries from newly qualified Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners or Child Consultants, who may be seeking clinical supervision or peer mentoring from experienced mediators.