In the previous sections of this comprehensive guide on family mediation, we have delved into the core principles and foundational concepts of family mediation (Part 1: What is Family Mediation), explored the essential steps and considerations for effective mediation preparation (Part 2: Preparing for Mediation), and outlined the stages and techniques commonly employed during the mediation process (Part 3: Stages in Mediation).

In this installment, Part 4, we will turn our attention to a critical aspect of family mediation, discussing both the advantages and disadvantages of this conflict resolution method. Understanding the potential benefits and limitations is essential in making informed decisions, whether you are a mediator, a participant, or an interested party. We will explore how family mediation can offer an opportunity for constructive dialogue and agreement while also recognizing scenarios in which it may not be the ideal solution.

As you continue reading, we encourage you to reflect on the insights provided and consider the factors that might influence your choice to engage in family mediation, either as a participant or a professional. By the end of this part, you will have a comprehensive overview that equips you with the knowledge to navigate family mediation effectively.

Stay tuned for valuable insights into the advantages and disadvantages of family mediation, and discover how this approach can facilitate resolution and promote productive communication within family dynamics.


Advantages of family mediation

 Mediation offers several advantages compared to court proceedings and other forms of dispute resolution, such as collaborative law. These include the following:

  • Speed. The parties are in control of the speed at which mediation progresses. If the parties want to, they can speed the process up by scheduling a number of mediation sessions at the outset of the process. Alternatively, they may choose to proceed at a slower pace, scheduling each session individually. As timetabling each mediation session is not dependant on overburdened court resources and judicial listing, mediation is often a much quicker dispute resolution process, compared with litigation.
  • Saving costs. A mediator’s hourly costs are generally far lower than a lawyer’s hourly charging rate. In privately paying cases, the parties tend to share the mediator’s costs between them. For both of these reasons, mediation is often a far cheaper dispute resolution process, compared to collaborative law or litigation, both of which are led by lawyers funded by a single party.
  • Party autonomy. The parties decide whether to settle the dispute and if so, on what terms. They therefore retain greater control over the process and outcome than they do in court proceedings.
  • Preserving better relationships. Mediation is an interests based rather than rights based process of dispute resolution. This can make it easier to preserve good working relationships between the parties. This is particularly important if the parties have children who they will be co-parenting in the future.
  • Confidentiality. All discussions that take place in mediation and any documents that are produced are without prejudice and cannot be disclosed unless the parties agree.
  • Flexibility. The parties have greater control over the mediation process and can decide, for example, how they want to deal with issues such as disclosure in a financial dispute. Unlike court proceedings, they can agree how and when they provide this disclosure.
  • Creative outcomes. Agreements reached between the parties in mediation can consider wider issues and take account of personal interests, unique to the parties involved. Mediation therefore often results in far more creative and bespoke solutions than are achieved in litigation. A dispute decided by court proceedings can only consider the merits of each party’s legal rights.
  • Lasting settlement. The mediation process involves reality testing various settlement options. This rigorous scrutiny and assessment means that a mediated settlement has a far greater chance of being adhered to by the parties and enduring than an order imposed on the parties by a judge. The latter may fail due to unintended consequences or non-compliance by either party.


Disadvantages of mediation

 It can be difficult to persuade a party to mediate for the following reasons (some of which may be misconceived):

  • Inability to compel disclosure. In mediation, the mediator asks the parties to produce the necessary information and documents. Errors and misunderstandings can be explained and clarified in the sessions. Unlike court proceedings however, the mediation process cannot compel either party nor a third party who is not involved in the process to take a particular step or to disclose information or documents.
  • Inability to verify disputed facts. Mediation is a forum within which the parties work together to reach a mutually acceptable consensus. Unlike court proceedings, it is not an adversarial dispute resolution process. The mediator’s role, unlike that of a judge, is to facilitate discussion between the parties. Disputes that need a decision to be made about a factual issue, such as whether jurisdiction has been seized, are unsuitable for mediation.
  • Waste of time and duplication of costs if unsuccessful. If mediation fails to achieve consensus between the parties on all issues in dispute, one or other party may feel that the process has been a waste of time and money. Court proceedings usually follow a failed mediation and in a financial dispute, disclosure will need to be provided and additional costs incurred, should the parties instruct lawyers. Duplication of costs can however be mitigated by the parties agreeing to use any financial disclosure produced in mediation in any subsequent court proceedings. This can be done by including a clause to this effect in the agreement to mediate.
  • Uncertainty of outcome. In other forms of dispute resolution, such as family law arbitration or litigation, the parties are guaranteed a result at the end of the process. There is no such guarantee of a result or determinative outcome in mediation.

We hope that the above information provides you with a greater understanding of the role and value that mediation can and does play in helping separating couples in resolving any differences that may arise in relation to children, finances or any other significant issues that may arise in the course of a separation or afterwards.

If you wish to learn more about how Optimal Solicitors can help you during what is undoubtedly a stressful and difficult time, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your options. Our professional and approachable team will be able to assist you with any queries you may have in most family related matters.