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What is happening to family mediation? Part 1

Date:26 JUL 2022
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Marian Roberts, Family Mediator, Former Visiting Fellow and Guest Teacher on the LSE ADR Law Masters

This article (in two parts) raises for discussion serious questions arising from new forms of family mediation practice now being promoted, largely by lawyers. These forms include what are called ‘psychodynamic’ , ‘ecosystemic’ and ‘hybrid’ family mediation. ‘Hybrid’ family mediation (an adaptation of the commercial mediation model)  routinely incorporates lawyers into the mediation process, rationalised, in particular, for dealing with parties with psychological disorders who would not otherwise be suitable for mediation.

Each of these practices makes claims, without substantiation, about the superiority of their approach in an invented hierarchy of mediation models. Informed by mediation research, this article reaffirms empirically based understandings about the nature and purpose of the mediation process as a discrete and independent dispute resolution intervention distinguished from other interventions ( whether therapeutic or adjudicatory) both  by its principle of party controlled decision-making authority and its process benefits especially  valuable for resolving issues arising from family breakdown..

The article raises concerns about the damaging impact both on public understandings and on family mediation practice of conflating ethical and professional boundaries, of inaccurate terminology usages, of muddled interventions, and of the growing legalisation of family mediation. 

The full article will be published in the August issue of Family Law



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