Published on July 3, 2024

Many people think that mediation is not for them. This may be because:- 

  • Their issues are very complex and they do not feel able to tackle and discuss topics with expertise and confidence.
  • Their relationship with their ex is so toxic or conflictual that they are not willing to be in a room with them to sort out their disputes.
  • They are intimidated by their ex, have concerns about domestic abuse or there is an imbalanced power dynamic.
  • They are generally lacking in the confidence that they can express themselves clearly and get their views across.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Whilst mediation is not always appropriate, Hybrid Mediation, or ‘family assisted mediation’ may well be suitable in any of the circumstances above.  So, what is hybrid mediation, and why consider it?

Hybrid Mediation is one of the family mediation processes, in which participants are supported by their lawyers during the mediation.

This means that the participants attend the mediation meetings with their lawyers. They usually sit in their own separate room with their lawyer and the mediator shuttles between the rooms. 

The role of the lawyers is to support and give legal advice to their clients and to help them to focus on the issues, explore the options and formulate proposals for settlement.   

Hybrid Mediation is appropriate for discussing both financial and child arrangements. 

What Is The Process?   

Participants first meet with the mediator in separate, confidential meetings. 

The mediator will then meet with the lawyers and participants to discuss a roadmap for the process.    

Subsequent joint meetings take place either on separate days or over the course of one day. The Participants and their lawyers generally sit in separate rooms and the mediator shuttles between. The participants decide when their lawyers attend the meetings.

It is also possible for other third-party experts to be included in the mediation process, such as financial neutrals, or pension experts.  Lawyers can draft any letters of instruction that might be required. 

At the end of the process the lawyers will formalise the documentation so that agreements can be made legally binding.  

What Are The Benefits Of Hybrid Mediation?  

  • Supportive process: Hybrid Mediation provides a safe and managed environment where participants are supported by their lawyers and who can give advice in real time. 
  • Quicker: Having lawyers directly in the process avoids delay as participants do not need to take time to seek legal advice between meetings. At the end of the mediation, lawyers can draw up all of the necessary documentation to enable agreements to be made legally binding.
  • Safe: Participants sit in separate rooms which gives them confidence to express themselves safely, which helps them to feel empowered and gives them confidence about the issues that affect them and their family. 
  • Reduces stress and conflict: sitting in separate rooms reduces the emotional stress and conflict that can occur when participants are sitting in the same space. Having the support of lawyers can also help participants to think more clearly and focus more rationally on the issues.
  • Cost effective: Being involved in the process, participants do not have to spend time explaining the issues to their lawyers. This also means that there is likely to be less disagreement or misunderstanding between the parties’ lawyers resulting in less inter-solicitor correspondence and discussion.

Hybrid Mediation provides a more supportive process for resolving family disputes, that empowers participants and gives them the support that they need throughout to enable them to reach long lasting and sustainable agreements.

If you like to find out more about the author, Rebekah Gershuny, you can see her profile HERE.

You might be interested in reading ‘What Is Child Inclusive Mediation?’

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And is in relation to the topic…

The Early Days Of Separation

Humans are designed to cope with many onslaughts, but change continues to prove extremely challenging. How you manage the early days of separation or divorce has the potential to set the tone for the rest of the process.

When couples separate, they are often thrown into a period of uncertainty. Identities are changing from couple to single, from mum and dad together as a family unit to mum with children and dad with children. Depending on the circumstances and who decides to leave the family home, there are many questions that arise during the early days of separation. “Will we have to sell our home?” “I haven’t worked since we had children – how will we manage financially?” “What will our friends and family think?” “How much will divorce cost?”
“Will I cope on my own?” There seems to be so much to sort out both practically and emotionally and it comes at a time when at least one of you will be ‘all over the place’ emotionally due to the loss you are experiencing. This can make decision-making seem impossible. Who wants to agree the practicalities of legal issues and more importantly organise the children when they are devastated, angry and confused by loss? It can turn otherwise rational, clear-thinking mums and dads into what appears to be belligerent, stubborn, unreasonable people.

Take Your Time!

In those early days of separation or divorce, take your time if you can. Seek support from friends, family and professionals. Try not to make any big decisions too quickly.
Bear in mind that communication problems with your ex and all the pressures on family life you are now experiencing, like for many separating couples, will get better with time. It’s important to recognise that you and your ex will more than likely be in very different emotional places at the moment; different stress levels and anxieties will be making communication difficult. Taking the time to sometimes do nothing, to not react, give things a day or two, can prove very useful techniques.
What you have to remember is that if you have children, your ex is always going to be part of your life. That can be hard to take on board when you are feeling hurt and angry. If you can find a way to communicate with each other that focuses on the children, you will all benefit in the years to come.

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