Mediation Case Studies
Below are a selection of mediation case studies to highlight some of the many benefits that mediation can provide to disputes.
If you are looking for specific information on mediation, then please click on one of the links on the left hand side for more information on a specific type. If you are not sure whether mediation is for you, then why not look at one of the example scenarios below or contact us on 01242 220601.
Property: Bob and Carol
Bob and Carol had separated shortly before coming to mediation. Carol had remained in their family home with their three children. Bob was living in bedsit accommodation. In the year prior to their separation they had incurred a number of debts and this had partly led to a breakdown in their relationship. Both were now worried about their financial future and concerned about how they could maintain the mortgage on their home. Although Bob and Carol had agreed to these arrangements prior to mediation, Bob was finding it difficult to see the children back at his bedsit. Bob was anxious to move into better accommodation.
In mediation we were able to examine in detail their financial circumstances, and discuss the steps which they could take to reduce their expenditure and manage their debts. It was important for the couple to work together, and as a result they were able to make enquiries about alternative ways of reducing their mortgage repayments and debts. They were both able to manage their short term difficulties, and also plan for the future without affecting their relationship with the children. They made arrangements which would enable Carol to remain in their family home with their children until they had left school. Those arrangements were later incorporated into a Court Order made in their subsequent Divorce proceedings. Bob has since moved into a flat of his own where he is happily able to look after his children.
Children: Daisy's Cows
We all know how problems can escalate when people don't communicate. A huge advantage of mediation is that when people who previously felt unable to communicate, or unable to communicate about a particular issue, are together at the same time, in the same room, with either one or two independent mediators, the obstructions to communication can vanish.
A little 2 year old girl loves animals, particularly cows. She loves her dad too, and what she really likes best is Saturday mornings, when her dad takes her to the farm to look at the cows. She had to wait nearly her whole life before her dad took her to look at the cows, because her mum and dad would not communicate.
Her Mum and Dad were boyfriend and girlfriend and lived with their respective families. The girlfriend became pregnant and really wanted her mother and boyfriend to attend a pre-natal scan. Her boyfriend was thrilled, but his mother insisted on attending the scan too. She didn't really know her boyfriend’s mother and didn't feel comfortable with this. He said that it wasn't fair for her own mother to attend, if his mother couldn't. She felt let down that, as she saw it, he was taking his mother's side, and there was a row. In the end, neither the boyfriend nor his mother attended the scan. The girlfriend felt so excluded and unloved by her boyfriend, that she ended the relationship.
When the girlfriend was admitted to hospital to have the little girl, she let her ex-partner know by sending him a text message. A few days later, when he was in town, one of her relatives shouted across the street to him:
"Can't even be bothered to go and see your kid can you?"
The little girl’s father had found out from the relative that his little girl had been born two days before.
"I got straight on the bus to the hospital; I couldn't wait to see her, I was so excited!" he told us.
When he arrived at the hospital he was told that he could not see his ex or the baby. He was desperate, but did not know what to do. Eventually, months later, a friend suggested he asked a solicitor to help him get to see the baby; it was his solicitor who recommended mediation.
In mediation, we helped the little girl’s parents to communicate.
He was able to tell her that he had not received the text message and that the first that he had known of their daughter’s birth, was her relative shouting at him in the street. He said that not knowing about her birth and finding out about it like this had made him feel unloved and excluded by his ex-partner.
Learning that he had not received the text message, and that when he found out about the birth, he had attempted to see her and their daughter in hospital, helped her to realise that her ex partner was committed to their daughter.
She said that she wanted the little girl’s father to play an active part in her life. The following day, for the first time, the father met his daughter, with his ex partner, at a local park.
Over the next six months new contact venues were added and, as the little girl got to know her Dad, they were able to wander off together, out of Mum’s sight, for longer periods.
As for today, the little girl looks forward to going to see the cows with her dad, and her Mum gets to read a magazine and put her feet up for a while.
Property: Jonathan and Angela
Jonathan and Angela were both working in well paid jobs. They had two teenage children. Jonathan owned his own company. Angela was a senior civil servant with substantial pension provision.
Unfortunately, their relationship had reach breaking point, and they turned to mediation to try and reach agreement about the division of their assets. Within mediation we were able to explore their financial positions and obtain appropriate valuations of their different assets. The mediator was able to liaise with Jonathan’s company’s accountants to obtain information and valuations of his company. The valuations were subsequently considered by Angela’s solicitor who was able to ask the mediator to obtain clarification of a number of points. Mediation gave Jonathan and Angela the opportunity of discussing their financial situation together, whilst being supported by their professional advisors. They were also able to involve a Pensions Advisor in the mediation who provided valuations of their pensions and explained the different pension choices open to them. Overall the mediation process enabled Jonathan and Angela to consider various financial options which helped alleviate some of the worry and stress. They were also able to take advice from their solicitors when they needed it, and reach an understanding about how they wanted to share their assets and plan for their own and their children’s future. This enabled them to remain on good terms throughout the discussions and work together to limit the impact of their separation on their children.
Children: Wellington Boots
A referral was received from the court for a couple to assist with the contact arrangements over their little boy. They arranged a date to meet but then the weather changed and there was snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures. However, amidst reports of the closure of Gatwick and other airports and 400 stationary Lorries on the M25 everyone made it to the meeting.
They met on a Wednesday morning and so it was agreed that Mum would drop Bobby off at his nursery beforehand and Dad would collect him later.
After dropping the little boy at nursery, his mother bought him his first ever pair of wellington boots because of the weather. She brought them to the meeting so she could hand them to the boy’s father, as he was picking their son up after the meeting. When she entered the meeting, she took them out of the bag and placed them on the table, so they would not get forgotten.
And that is where they remained: right in the middle of the mediation table throughout the whole of the session.
These were not any old wellington boots. They were tiny, baby wellington boots with camouflage pattern adorning the shiny plastic and glittery soles.
There in the middle of the table was a reminder of what was important.
They were talking about a tiny vulnerable child whose feet were so small as to fit into these little boots. The army camouflage imitated toughness, but in these little boots it was fickle and false and worthy of protection, not really able to protect itself. The boots were flimsy plastic and not substantial, Dad would add more help from thick woolly socks for tender feet. The boots would fit the boy now and keep his feet dry, but they would be less than useless in a few months time.
The mediation had a successful outcome as the wellington boots were a constant reminder that the couple were not there to argue, but to do what was best for their child.
Children: Phil and Lesley
Phil and Lesley were both in their 20’s. Phil had had an affair and had left Lesley shortly after their baby’s birth. This left Lesley in a dreadful position as she was very deeply hurt and felt abandoned by Phil. Phil however wanted to maintain a relationship with his daughter but felt that Lesley was being unnecessarily obstructive. Things had been difficult in the months following their separation but had now come to a head because Phil wanted to extend his contact. Lesley felt that Phil’s behaviour had been irresponsible and did not trust him with their child. This had led to frequent arguments and breakdown of communication.
During mediation the mediators worked with Phil and Lesley to help them understand each other’s position and focus on the needs of their child rather then themselves. Over a number of sessions their communication improved and Lesley felt able to trust Phil and allow him to see their child for longer periods. There has been a significant improvement in the communication between Phil & Lesley who are now able to put their personal differences aside and look forward to their child’s future.
Children: Mark and Michelle
Mark and Michelle had separated six months before coming to mediation. Michelle had left with their two children and was now living with another man in his home. Mark had remained in their family home. The children came to stay with him regularly.
As the months passed, Mark became increasingly concerned about the arrangement. When staying with him the children had said things which had concerned him about his wife’s new partner and the attention which the children were getting in their new home. Mark now felt that the children would be better off living with him in their former family home and was proposing to apply for a Residence Order that the children live with him rather than Michelle. He and Michelle came to mediation to try to resolve matters before issuing Court proceedings. Both were convinced that they were able to give their children a better home and that their children would be happier with them. I spent several sessions helping Mark and Michelle to talk about their children and share their hopes and fears for them. It was apparent that both parents loved their children very dearly and were able to offer them a supportive environment. During the course of the mediation I met with the children and talked to them about the situation. I was able to tell Mark and Michelle what their children had said which helped them to focus more on their children’s needs and wishes.
In the end after much discussion, Mark and Michelle were able to agree an arrangement whereby the children spent similar amounts of time with each of them. They were also able to discuss at length the practical arrangements which would need to be made for this to work. Court proceedings were avoided and the family was able to build better relationships in the future.
Children: Andrew and Laura
Andrew and Laura had spent six months engaged in contested litigation about their children. They had had a messy break up and both parties felt betrayed by the other. Their positions had become increasingly polarised and the arguments between them were bitter and at times vindictive. They had both incurred very substantial legal fees.
Realising how destructive the Court proceedings had been, they came to mediation hoping to build bridges with the aim of improving their relationship for the children’s sake. Over a number of meetings they discussed the arrangements for their children and were both able to reach agreement and find ways of minimising future conflict.
The couple felt that they had faced many of their issues and had made rational decisions based on what was best for their children rather than trying to hurt one another further. They were able to return to Court and ask the Judge to make an Order in terms they had agreed.
Divorce & Separation: John and Sheila
John and Sheila were still living together in their family home when they came to mediation. They had two children aged 7 and 10. The couple had been together for 15 years, however, over time they had grown apart and Sheila felt that their marriage was over and wanted John to leave. John, on the other hand, wanted to rebuild their relationship and stay together particularly as they had young children.
They began by talking though their thoughts about the relationship and how things have changed over the years. Sheila felt that they no longer had a loving relationship and it felt like more of a friendship. Unfortunately, Sheila had fallen out of love with John. As John listened to Sheila he came to understand her position and reluctantly accepted that separation was inevitable.
John was particularly concerned about his relationship with his children whilst Sheila was anxious about her financial security. This was clearly a stressful and emotional time for the couple however, they were anxious to minimise the affect their separation had on their young children. By examining their financial position carefully, they were able to consider the economies which would be necessary if they were to live apart and how they both might manage.
Whilst agreeing that the children should stay with Sheila in the family home, Sheila was able to reassure John about the arrangements that they could make for him to see as much of the children as possible. John, for his part, was able to offer Sheila financial support which would enable her to stay in their family home with their children. By highlighting and discussing the issues in their relationship, John and Sheila were also able to rationally decide how to go about their separation and talk about their future Divorce.
Therapeutic Mediation: Richard and Sophie
Richard and Sophie had been divorced for six years. However, they had continued to argue over the arrangements for their children. The children lived with Sophie and saw Richard alternate weekends. However, holiday arrangements and any variations in the schedule always seemed to lead to bitter arguments. Richard and Sophie had come to realise that this was having an adverse effect on their children and negative effect on their own lives.
Over a number of sessions they worked with the mediator to try to understand the underlying cause of their conflict. Sophie felt that Richard was arrogant and bullying. Richard thought that Sophie was over protective and irrational. The mediator was able to point out how their repeated patterns of communication led to conflicts and misunderstanding, and suggest ways in which they could avoid the arguments that they so often got into. At the final session Sophie came and said that she now recognised that her need to let go and trust Richard with their children. In response Richard was able to acknowledge that he had at times been overbearing and would endeavour to be less so. During the course of their mediation their communications had improved, and they both hoped to be able to continue to work better together as parents in the future.