SUPPORTING YOUR CLIENT THROUGH FAMILY MEDIATION

This article is aimed at solicitors who refer clients to our family mediator, Joanna Toloczko. It is intended to provide you with guidance on how to give your client the best possible support throughout the mediation process and maximise the prospects of a successful outcome.

 

The mediation referral

The referral process progresses most efficiently if you make the referral for your client. This can be done using Joanna’s referral form, which only takes a few minutes to complete. We need very little information to get matters under way. This is much better than just giving the client Joanna’s contact details or a link to our website. Clients often delay making contact and this leads to their case losing momentum.

 

Help with the Form E

If your client has already completed a Form E, please ensure that they have a copy of the Form E and the supporting documents to give to Joanna. This will save time when we are dealing with disclosure. If they haven’t completed a Form E yet, don’t worry, your client will be provided with guidance on the completion of the form as part of the mediation process.

 

Providing timely advice throughout the mediation

As the mediator is not able to provide advice to either party as this would prejudice her impartiality, there are likely to be several occasions when your client will need advice in support of the mediation process. The most significant of these is when the agreed schedule of assets, income and liabilities is ready. If your client has not previously had advice regarding the range of likely outcomes, now would be a very good time to provide them with that advice. Joanna will prepare the schedule in such a way that you can see at a glance what assets there are and the value of those assets. Comprehensive and constructive advice at this stage helps to manage expectations and leads to successful outcomes.

 

It is important to stress to your clients that there is not just one “right” outcome. It is very frustrating when a client comes to mediation clutching a calculation from their solicitor and will not budge from following that calculation to the exact pound.

 

Whenever a client feels that they would like to have an opportunity to consult their solicitor, Joanna will always give them time for this. Clients are always going to be more committed to proposals that were approached in a relaxed and comfortable way and supported by legal advice.

 

Have faith in the mediator

Help your client to select a mediator you know and trust and then have faith in the mediator. Clients may sometimes query, for example, why the other person was permitted to speak for longer than they were or why the mediation is progressing slowly (in their eyes). The mediator will usually have a very good reason for conducting the mediation session in the way they did. For example, the mediator may have detected that the discussions are only going to be fruitful if an angry or hurt client has an opportunity to vent first or the party who has not dealt with the couple’s finances is permitted an opportunity to “catch up” and understand the financial arrangements.