The new BBC Two documentary, Mr vs Mrs: Call the Mediator, recently showed couples in mediation trying to reach agreements regarding their children and financial matters.
In the first Programme of the series, aired on Tuesday, 21 June, Peter and Sue are seen discussing financial matters. However, Peter wanted an agreement before he would produce his financial information. This was misleading about the process, as before any negotiation can start in relation to financial matters it is fundamental that full financial disclosure is given. Trained mediators would make this clear from the outset of the mediation process however, that didn’t seem to be the case on TV but then perhaps TV doesn’t always show the full story.
The other couples involved in the documentary are seen trying to reach an agreement regarding the arrangements for their children. It is important when making arrangements for parents to consider first and foremost the needs of the children rather than what they want. Parents should also be aware of the impact that their behaviour may have on their children.
According to the Ministry of Justice in 2013 nearly two thirds of couples who attended a single mediation session for a child dispute reached a full agreement.
The National Audit Office Figures on legally-aided mediation show that, the average time for a mediated case to be completed is 110 days compared to 435 days for court cases on similar issues.
Mediation can be a good process and often reduces the time and cost of a resolving a family dispute, but it is vital when going through a separation/divorce that couples look at all the options available to them and take legal advice to ensure a fair outcome for each individual and their children.