Peter Martin, the head of our family department, is also both a collaborative lawyer and a mediator.
Peter trained as a mediator in 1990 and has been on the board of the Family Mediators Association and the UK College of Family Mediators. He mediates on a regular basis from our office in Finchley, North London, although under the terms of his membership of the Family Mediators Association, such work is independent of this firm. Peter mostly practices the co-mediation model of mediation, but also works as a sole mediator.
What follows is extracted from a lengthy article on mediation written by Peter Martin for the Feminine Zone website. The full article may be viewed at: www.femininezone.com.
What is family mediation
Mediation is a process in which an independent mediator or mediator's help a couple involved in divorce or separation resolve the practical issues that arise from the breakdown of their relationship.
It is not about helping the couple to reconcile. That would be conciliation or family therapy. It is about dealing with the emotional issues that can particularly affect the ability of the couple to be good parents to their children.
Mediation can deal with any practical issue that the couple would like to be dealt with, from questions as to who the children should live with and how often they should see the other parent; to dealing with detailed financial issues. To use a bit of jargon, it is future focussed, rather than dwelling on the past.
What are the benefits of mediation
The couple set the pace and the content of the mediation. The mediators control the process. This means that the individuals retain control and feel much more in control of what is happening.
It can also benefit the couple in improving communication. The process of mediation is a safe place to talk and express emotion, enabling proper discussion to take place of issues that normally just lead to a blow up arguments.
How does mediation work
In very general terms mediation works by the couple working together with the mediator or mediators in the same room and at the same time. Peter Martin works both as a sole mediator and in co-mediation. Generally we prefer the co-mediation method as it means there is a male and a female mediator, producing a gender balance that is very helpful to the process.
There are a number of stages within mediation. At first it is necessary to obtain the information and establish an element of trust and comfort between mediators and individuals. The mediators need to understand the information provided before being able to really assist the couple in looking for solutions. Quite often one or other or both of the individuals also need to understand the information themselves. This is particularly the case in financial issues. It is very common for one of the partners to have always dealt with the finances and the other person to feel completely in the dark. Only once everybody fully understands the position can the development of options for solutions begin.
How much does Mediation Cost
Costs are normally quoted on a per person per session basis. Most mediations are dealt with in 5-7 sessions. Peter Martin operates a scale of fees based upon the incomes of the parties in an attempt to make mediation more widely available. An average charge would be £140 per person per hour. Please enquire directly of Peter Martin.
Collaborative family law is a new approach in the UK to negotiating and settling the issues arising from divorce or family separation. It generates a dignified and co-operative attitude to negotiating in which the commitment of the separating couple and their lawyers is to achieving a settlement which will be as suitable and amicable as possible for the family, particularly the children, without the threat of Court proceedings.
Separated or separating spouses or partners, with the advice and assistance of specialist family lawyers trained in the collaborative process, negotiate in controlled, safe and respectful setting. The parties and lawyers commit themselves to making every possible effort to achieve a settlement. To confirm and protect that commitment the parties and their lawyers agree that the lawyers cannot take part in any litigation that may occur if an agreement is not reached.
Emotional tactics, threats, or abusive communications are identified, discussed and eliminated. The whole focus is turned from one of taking positions and posturing into an emphasis on settlement and trying to achieve the best that is possible in the circumstances for the parties and their children. Both Peter Martin and Mark Kosmin-Barr are trained Collaborative Family Lawyers and have been instrumental in setting up local groups of other Collaborative lawyers who, whilst independent of each other, co-operate on a regular basis.