Thank you for asking me to write a guest blog for your clients’ interest. Tisshaws continues to be in the driving seat when it comes to considering how to solve problems for their clients without resorting to court. Hybrid mediation is one of these options.
What is hybrid mediation?
It combines civil and family models of mediation. It enables the mediator to have separate meetings with the parties and their lawyers and to keep confidences. This is in contrast to family mediation where the keeping of confidences is not allowed. Somehow, family mediation became one where, routinely, clients’ lawyers were not actively involved. This is a reclaim of past practice and frankly a much welcome one. So, it’s not really new!
For me, there is also an important opportunity to work in a team. The mediator can see ways to save costs by working with others. Involving a family consultant to take some of the emotion out of the process so that we can start to co-operate and find a way of sorting things out. We may need to have a hiatus to allow the parents to find ways to successfully parent post separation.
We may also need the help of a pension expert, accountancy help (e.g. to work out likely tax implications or to value a family business) or even a financial coach to help with budgeting. The mediator can act as a co-ordinator and facilitator.
This is wholly in line with recommendations contained in the Report of the Family Solutions Group, ‘What about me?’ Reframing Support for Families following Parental Separation (November 2020)
What are the benefits of hybrid mediation?
What sorts of family issues can be sorted out using hybrid mediation?
All manner of family issues, including financial matters (including those with an international element), children matters, inheritance issues and wider family disputes that may involve other family members such as parents or grandparents. Whether the parties are married or not.
Consider hybrid mediation for the negotiation of relationship agreements like prenuptials, cohabitation agreements/deeds or post nuptial settlements.
When is hybrid mediation appropriate?
Hybrid mediation is particularly useful in the following situations: –
How does hybrid mediation work?
The mediator has initial separate meetings with the participants to explore the issues. Then the mediator has a meeting or call with both lawyers to discuss their role, the information needed, and the format of meetings. Hybrid mediation meetings then take place separately or jointly or a combination of both. Lawyers do not need to attend all meetings but often they will be available on the phone to assist if needed.
Lawyers’ roles are to support their clients and give independent legal advice: the mediator remains in control of the process and discussions are between the participants.
What are the costs involved?
Hybrid mediation is very cost effective. The costs of the mediator in hybrid mediation are generally met equally by the participants, but can be whatever proportions they decide.
Each person is responsible for their own lawyer’s costs. The lawyers’ direct involvement in the process reduces the need for people to liaise with their lawyers between meetings. It reduces the need for inter-solicitor correspondence (expensive letter writing). And if you know me, you’ll know how much I don’t like lawyers’ writing letters to each other!
Ask your lawyer to consider this process as it’s really effective at finding solutions and moving forward.
Jo O’Sullivan is an Accredited Mediator and collegiate solicitor with O’Sullivan Family Law.
3 Hazelgrove Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex,
We do not have public parking at our office but there are pay and display car parks a few minutes walk away on St Joseph's Way and St Wilfred's Way, by the Tesco Express and Orchard Shopping Centre.
If you are using public transport we are a 20 minute walk from Haywards Heath train station and a short walk from a number of bus stops.