Over the last 3 Tuesday nights BBC2 has been required viewing for anyone involved with family law. The new series “Call the Mediator”, following family mediators and their clients, took to the airwaves.
Huge credit should go to the participants (both mediators and clients) who allowed access to their sessions. Feelings ran high, tempers were often frayed and what came across was the emotional and financial toll that separation and divorce can have on a couple and their children, both in the immediate aftermath of a split but also in the longer term if disagreements are dragged out.
Anything that demystifies the process must be a good thing, although the focus of the programme felt at times to be more on the people than the procedure. The need to entertain as well as inform meant that the emphasis was on the higher conflict cases rather than the many couples who work through their issues and reach agreement by respecting the process and each other.
In several of the scenarios it appeared that the clients had little knowledge of their legal position. A mediator can give general information about the law but cannot advise on either party’s rights or responsibilities. In the programme, there certainly seemed to be moments where taking some time out to encourage each client to get independent advice on the legal position may have helped the process move along.
Of course covering the progress of 3 couples in each hour long episode means that the sessions would have been significantly edited down. Even the most enthusiastic family lawyer or mediator would admit that even a short summary of the law in relation to arrangements for children or finances probably wouldn’t make for the most entertaining viewing!
The series was a useful introduction to the process and a welcome reminder that there are alternatives to litigation. Mediation may not work for everyone but for anyone dealing with issues arising from separation it is often the best option.
At Morrisons Solicitors we are able to offer family mediation or legal advice and we would be happy to discuss the various routes open to anyone dealing with issues arising from separation.