Negotiating using mediation

Facing your ex-partner in mediation can be daunting. Having experienced the emotional turmoil of separation or divorce, you may still find it upsetting to be in the same room as them. However, if you are to reach agreement about the most important things in your life – your children and your home – you need to be able to negotiate constructively in mediation to achieve an outcome that you feel is fair and workable.

Awareness of your shifting relationship with your ex-partner is an important factor in your approach to negotiation. As your relationship is over, you can no longer expect friendship, approval or emotional support from each other. However, if you have children, you are likely to remain co-parents for many years to come, you will need to develop a ‘business-like’ relationship for the benefit of your children.

Your mediator will help you to negotiate with each other by creating an atmosphere in the sessions which is calm, constructive and productive. There will be mediation ground rules about how you and your ex-partner speak to each other and what is and is not acceptable. The mediator will make sure you listen to each other carefully, keeping interruptions to minimum, and will help you clarify your thoughts and ideas if this is necessary.

But there are steps you can take to ensure you negotiate as effectively as you can in mediation:

  • Come prepared with ideas about what would work for you, but be flexible after you have discussed them with your ex-partner. There are often several routes to the same outcome.
  • Remain calm and business-like regardless of the other person’s behaviour.
  • Focus on building up a different future, not on what went wrong in the past.
  • Focus on solutions, not feelings and work towards a joint plan that will benefit your children, without being concerned about who is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.
  • Separate how you feel about your ex-partner from how you intend to relate to them as a parent.
  • Separate your needs from your children’s and remember that all separated parent spend time away from their children.
  • Never pressurise your ex-partner to make a decision in the session and don’t allow this to happen to you, as time to reflect on proposals is important to everyone.

National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family.

If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.

All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.

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