Case Study: Using family mediation to resolve disagreements over contact arrangements

Butcher & Barlow LLP has its own independent B&B Mediation service, which provides alternative dispute resolution for multiple parties in a non-adversarial atmosphere, away from courts and litigating solicitors.

B&B Mediation Services facilitated the successful Mediation between two parents whose relationship had irretrievably broken down.

Having already separated, a mediator from B&B Mediation Services was appointed to facilitate mediation between the mother and father, after contact arrangements for the parties’ 4-year-old child had broken down.

Initial one to one meetings were arranged privately with both parties – formally known as Mediation Information Assessment Meetings. These meetings revealed no domestic violence issues or safeguarding concerns, and it was clear that both parties still had faith in each other’s parenting skills. However, communication had completely broken down and both parties needed help in moving forward for the best interests of their son.

B&B Mediation Services provided an experienced sole mediator to manage the case. Neither party had a solicitor at the time of mediation, and the Mediator guided each individual through the process with the aim of achieving a positive result for both parties without having to pursue court proceedings.

Through one joint mediation session, both parents were able to voice their concerns and wishes for the future of their child, and it soon became apparent that these parents had a lot of common ground.

Venn diagrams were used to highlight where beliefs and concerns differed and overlapped. When an impasse arrived, the mediator’s main strategy was to return to the similarities and mutualise the situation to show both parents, that despite their personal grievances, they both wanted the best for their son.

This approach is often useful in mediation, encouraging parties to drop their guard and find a central, child-focused approach to solving their differences. Where impasse situations arise, mediators will often move onto the next agenda item, returning once other compromises have been achieved, and both parties feel they are being heard.

By the end of this session, both parents were talking to each other again, rather than just through the Mediator, and were able to agree on personal issues such as what they were each going to buy for their son’s upcoming birthday.

Despite initially refusing to contribute towards the mediation session, the father agreed that he had benefitted immensely from the session and agreed to pursue, and pay for, further mediation.

If you would like to talk to Butcher & Barlow’s Family Law team about mediation, or other concerns regarding children and family separation, please visit our Family Law page