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Hunters Law
23rd January 2024

Family Mediation Week – and beyond…

Family Mediation Week – and beyond…
Henry Hood
Henry Hood
Senior Partner

Resolution’s Family Mediation Week has for some time been a significant stage of the family law calendar. 

Having recently been required to wait eight months for a First Appointment after issuing court proceedings, the importance of mediation, within the context of the wider dispute resolution opportunities, becomes ever more important. 

The prospect of any improvement in the court’s capacity over the months or years to come is bleak, even with a change of political master, and so we must ourselves employ whatever opportunities which are open to us to offer non-court-based alternatives to our clients.

Mediation – in which a trained mediator acts as a neutral third party to facilitate discussions and negotiations – has long been the market leader of non-court dispute resolution, and there are no surprises as to why that is. 

A case that arrives at a mediated solution is likely to cost the parties less in every way: in financial terms, in the damage to those relationships that are almost bound to extend long into the future and in time: imagine the number of mediation sessions one could fit into the eight months I am waiting for my First Appointment.

A new offering, which incorporates many features and benefits of mediation, is also now gaining traction: “one couple, one lawyer”, which at Hunters we are calling Resolve. This involves a single lawyer both advising both parties on the law and then assisting them in reaching a solution.

Some couples will prefer traditional mediation, each instructing their own lawyer on a confidential basis to take legal advice. Others will welcome the increased efficiency of Resolve, and the opportunity to work with a lawyer whose role is to consider the interests of the family as a whole. What is important is working with each client or couple to find the approach that best fits their circumstances.  

As a long-time mediator and relatively new Resolve lawyer, I would reflect that one aspect of the attraction of these processes that perhaps does not get mentioned enough, is the job satisfaction that it provides to the lawyer. 

Rather than my eight-month wait for even preliminary court action, I can get to work right away, and for someone as old as I am, that is quite important. Of course, there have been moments in mediation that one would prefer not to relive, but the reverse is so much more often the case. 

The process by which two parties get through/off/around/over a dispute (choose your preposition) can be one of alchemy, and the professional pleasure one gets in resolving a complex dispute is hard to beat. 

I strongly recommend young practitioners to become qualified. They will be needed.