04 December 2020
Family Hybrid Mediation is a new model tailored to clients who may otherwise litigate or who are reluctant to engage in more traditional mediation processes.
When COVID-19 came, family courts were forced to close their doors, adding a backlog to the already stretched family court service. Meanwhile, at Kent and Surrey Family Resolution, we embrace the opportunity for new ways of working, which can be more constructive, efficient, innovative and economical.
One of these is Family Hybrid Mediation.
Family Hybrid Mediation provides an alternative dispute resolution process. The aim is to help clients resolve their issues in an approach which is safe, confidential and supported by contemporaneous legal advice. This means clients’ lawyers, where appointed, have a more direct and constructive role in the mediation process.
Alongside joint meetings, there is the option for mediators to have separate, confidential meetings with each client and their lawyers where appropriate. This can be facilitative when exploring issues, addressing concerns and developing proposals or terms of settlement.
Safe and careful boundaries are maintained, which allows for sensitivity, flexibility and creativity. The approach is ethical and was developed to meet the needs of clients who may be separating or seeking a divorce.
What is the advantage over traditional mediation?
Clients can feel safe when agreeing their own outcome, helped by the presence of their lawyers in the process, alongside the professional guidance of an experienced family mediator.
Who may benefit from this approach?
Family Hybrid Mediation can be suitable for all issues arising in day-to-day practice. However, this process is critical in cases of high conflict, it can be particularly useful in dealing with unmarried couples, and in other family issues such as family business or inheritance issues.
Critically, the process is time-efficient and cost-effective for clients. Especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with family court hearings being adjourned and delays in family court listings, the approach offers a safe and fair alternative, without stressful waits and uncertainty.
How does the business get resolved? What happens afterwards to reach settlement?
If clients are able to reach a set of proposals with which they are happy to move forwards, the solicitors can advise and, if agreement is reached, immediately draft an order by consent.
Can this happen remotely? Need we meet face-to-face?
Family Hybrid mediation works particularly well in remote meetings: the family mediator can meet with the two instructed solicitors and the couple individually with their solicitors alongside, as and when required. It is confidential, solution-focussed and developed to respond to client needs.
The approach is flexible in that meetings can be arranged as often or infrequently as required.