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You Don’t Have To Be Friends For Mediation To Work

(Less than 10 minutes)

Scene 1:

Janet: I tried mediation already.  It didn’t work.

Mediator: And why was that, Janet?  What was it about mediation that didn’t work for you?

Janet: The mediator asked him about his financial disclosure and HE admitted to having a load of cash in bank accounts I’d never heard of. He’d ferreted it all away as soon as he knew I was leaving him.  I was disgusted.  He’d lied and deceived me for months.

Mediator: And what happened next?

Janet: Well I walked out of the mediation.  How dare he have deceived me all that time.

Pause.

Mediator: Janet I’m just trying to understand what you’re saying.  So your husband admitted to hiding assets and came clean on everything. And you walked out.  And for you that mean’t that mediation doesn’t work?

Janet: That’s right and I tell everyone on Facebook and any other women I meet – I warn them how it didn’t work for me at all.  I’m only here because my solicitor said I had to come for a MIMS whatever it is thing to tick box going to court.  You are one of those mediators who can do that, aren’t you?

Mediator: Yes, I’m an Accredited Mediator which means I can sign off the form that allows you to take your dispute to court. And we are conducting a MIAMS – a Mediation Information And Assessment Meeting. But to be honest with you Janet, I’m rather hoping that you can come to some agreement without resorting to court.  I understand you haven’t found mediation beneficial in the past – but perhaps this time you might give it a bit more of a chance?  I mean there are benefits to you if you do?

Janet:  What benefits? My friends say mediation is fluffy and I won’t get a decent settlement – and after the way he’s behaved I deserve all of it quite frankly – and I’m only going to get that with a good lawyer.  I’ve hired a real Rottweiler.  Found him on Google.  My new lawyer agrees with me that my husband is clearly a narcissist and that mediation won’t work.

Mediator: Solicitors are highly trained in legal matters, but perhaps not the best people to take advice from on mental health issues.

Janet: My hairdresser agrees with me.  She’s done an online counselling course.

Mediator: Even people who know your husband may not be….

Janet: Oh she doesn’t know him.  She only cuts women’s hair.

Mediator: Look Janet, I’m here to remain fully impartial and to determine whether mediation is a viable option for you and your husband.  Let me be frank with you – if you can allow me to try to help you reach an agreement out of court, that could save you a huge amount of money, time and stress.  You have a child, don’t you Janet?

Janet: Yes, I have a daughter.  Marilyn – she’s a one she is. She’s 8 going on 28!

Mediator: Think of it this way Janet – you can go to court where many people pay out a minimum of £25,000 by the time they’ve covered court fees, solicitors bills, and that’s not including time off work, inconvenience and the stress. That money could be spent on Marilyn instead. 

Shall we give it a try Janet?  Perhaps this time, with my impartial support, you won’t need to walk out? And if you do, you can come back into the room whenever you’re ready. And you can call your solicitor at any time to ask for guidance, if that’s what you want to do.  Shall we try it? 

Bye the way – long term studies in the US showed that on average, women who accessed mediation ended up with larger maintenance settlements than women who went to court.  Just thought I’d mention that long term statistically relevant study, just so you are aware that mediation may be more to your advantage than you might imagine. But you can find out for yourself, yes?

Janet slowly, uncertainly, nods her head.

Scene 2:

Brian: Well you’ve met her so you know she’s a bloody nutter and she won’t even let me finish a sentence let alone hear my side of it.  She won’t stop till I’m living in a cardboard box wearing bin bags for clothes and even now she won’t let me see my own daughter unless I pay off one of her credit cards but she’s frozen all my assets with the bloody Rottweiler lawyer she’s got so how am I supposed to live?  I’m self representing I’m so skint now and thank god for Families Need Fathers or I might have topped myself by now it’s killing me not seeing my daughter and I’ve had to sell the car to pay for the rent and I’m living in a shitty part of town cause that’s all I can afford and even if she let me have Marilyn over there’s nowhere for her to sleep over and I don’t even care about the money anymore I want to see my daughter and get on with my life and why is she punishing me anyway? She was the one that had the affair and wanted to leave?!

Mediator: A judge won’t have time to hear your story. If I told you that within the mediation structure your story will be heard, will you agree to an exploratory session?

Brian: (quickly)

Yes.

Scene 3:

(Janet speaks straight to camera)

Well it didn’t go too badly.  I still think I could have got more by going to court but time is money isn’t it? 

But I am a reasonable person, and I realised I was angry.  I understood this before I went to the mediation because I went to this Retreat, because I deserved a weekend off with all the stress, and I did all these workshops and realised that I was still feeling – and this is just between you and me right so don’t tell Brian – but I realised I was feeling a bit guilty about being the one to end the marriage, and that I was projecting that anger onto Brian. We all do it apparently. 

But during the mediation I didn’t want to talk about that but the mediator asked Brian what he felt about how I’d ended the marriage.

And you’ll never guess what happened.  Brian said he was OK with my decision.  That it had hurt time at the time but he just wished me well. He nearly said something else that began with the words: “I’m better off…” But then the mediator started coughing and I missed the end of the sentence.

It was like he forgave me and even though it was all his fault because he never shut the toilet seat and always left the top off the toothpaste but anyway, I felt less angry and somehow we sorted out what we should do with the finances and when he should see Marilyn.  It wasn’t what I expected. And now I can move on you know.  It’s over and done with. 

I was hoping to take Marilyn to Disneyland, but I got this massive bill from the lawyer I used before we went to Mediation.  Who’d of thought writing a few letters could cost that much?

Scene 4:

(Brian speaks straight to camera)

Well I listened to her jabber on and managed to keep my mouth shut.  Luckily I’d learned a few tricks in advance to get me through it.  The mediator persuaded me against using valium because he said I needed to stay ‘present’, whatever that means. 

When she started saying how much fun she has with her new boyfriend she thought I had developed a nervous twitch under the table, but she was wrong. Cause what I was really doing was some EFT tapping which I learned from videos on how to stay calm under pressure. Hah, that fooled her.

I nearly blew it when I told her I was OK about her ending our relationship, then I automatically started to say “I’m better off without you” – but the mediator got something stuck in his throat and luckily she didn’t hear that bit. The mediator stopped me giving her everything and pointed out that she wouldn’t get any time off from our daughter if I lived in a one bed slum and couldn’t have her stay over, and we sorted out a reasonable financial arrangement.  It was never going to be perfect but it was a lot fairer than what we’d started with.

And we even agreed on me seeing Marilyn, and how to communicate using a Handover Book and online diaries, so we don’t actually have to speak to each other in person. Bloody perfect.  And I’m relieved it’s all done and peacefully too because our daughter Marilyn is young for her age.  She’s a sensitive type.  She is learning by our example. 

And I noticed she has some cut marks on her and I’ve been worried she’s been self-harming because I know that can happen, and I’ve spoken to dads at Families Need Fathers’ meet up groups who are still trying to get to see their kids and how it’s taking years, and I realised how lucky I am compared to many of them.

And she’s watching how we deal with this, isn’t she? Learning by example, as kids do.  And we just want to do right by our children don’t we, at the end of the day.  Don’t we?

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