An interdisciplinary research project looking at how people accessed help in family disputes has just published preliminary findings from a national survey into the three major forms of out of court family dispute resolution which are Mediation, negotiation between Solicitors and Collaborative Law.
The three year study commenced in July 2011 and is funded by the Economic and Social Research Panel.
Generally Mediation was recognised as the most common way of dealing with matters outside of Court but there was also higher than expected recognition and experience of Collaborative Law, which has only really been available in Britain since 2006. Collaborative Law also achieved the highest level of satisfaction amongst the participants to the questionnaire. There were some problems expressed with Mediation, some clients feeling dissatisfied as they felt intimidated and unprotected by the Mediator. There is often insufficient time spent explaining the difference between Mediation and the Collaborative process. They may sound similar but in practice are very different, particularly if you feel vulnerable or anxious and need the support of a solicitor with you in negotiations.
In Mediation you are on your own with the Mediator and your partner or ex-partner. That can be frightening or at least intimidating, certainly disconcerting. The Mediator does not intervene on your behalf, the Mediator is neutral. However this can be a very cost effective way to negotiate settlements but equally it can be intimidating.
With Collaborative Law you have your lawyer with you who supports you but also in the collaborative process, both lawyers are trying to reach a settlement and it is all carried out in a very open and transparent way with all parties present. There is little opportunity for either intimidation or for one party to become aggressive or intimidating or to be difficult about seeking compromise.
The survey found that people going through divorce found Mediation very hard emotionally as a process – but Mediation is designed to be in parallel with using a solicitor who should support you through the process. Very often though, of course, cost means that people are reluctant to spend time with both Lawyer and Mediator.
A significant finding of the research was that of the divorce/separated post 1996 sub-sample, women who were offered Mediation were less likely to take it up (49%) then men (71%). Although of those who did take it up, women were more likely to be neutral about the process (40%) whilst men were significantly more likely to be dissatisfied (55%).
For more information about the project see Mapping the Paths of Family Justice
For more information or to discuss further please contact Nicky Gough on 07711 527968 or email email@example.com.