Agreement in mediation

A prospective client recently asked me, ‘what are the barriers to a successful mediation?’ It was a good question and one that made me think. Sometimes mediation is not appropriate (see here for when mediation might not be appropriate). When it is appropriate and agreement could be reached, some clients will not succeed. Why? Here are the main barriers to mediation being successful;


  • One or both clients are not emotionally ready for mediation.


Sometimes people are not emotionally ready for mediation because they have not yet come to terms with the end of their relationship. See here for more information on this.

Even if people have come to terms with the end of a relationship, it understandably can take a certain level of emotional maturity to mediate, and sometimes people will never be emotionally ready for mediation.

Often we can support people in mediation so that they become emotionally ready, but this can mean that the process takes a little longer.


  • One or both clients just want to get every last penny out of the other


When clients arrive at mediation with this kind of attitude, mediation is difficult. Mediation is based on meeting both party’s needs and those of the children. If one person is either only thinking of their own needs, or wants to punish the other, then mediation is challenging.

Once we explain in mediation that everyone’s needs must be met and once we can establish what both parties and the children need, then hopefully we can shift their outlook to one that is a little more realistic.


  • One or both clients are not confident to negotiate for him/herself


People are making big financial decisions in mediation. Sometimes people do not feel confident to make these decisions.

Often we can support people in mediation to feel comfortable making their own decisions with support from their solicitor, or an Independent Financial Advisor or even a trusted friend.


  • Communication is so poor that clients cannot negotiate


Some clients seem to come into mediation just wanting to continue the arguments that they were having outside of mediation.

Sometimes in mediation we are able to move these clients to a future focus and to help them to listen to each other just enough in order to reach agreement – but not always.


  • More interested in own needs than those of the children


Almost everyone who comes into mediation says that the needs of their children are the most important. And some people don’t manage to keep the needs of their children at the forefront.

Sometimes in mediation we can keep parents thinking about their children’s needs and encourage them back on track when they get distracted.


If one of the elements above is present, all is not lost. Sometimes we can still reach agreement in mediation. Even where we can’t, we can usually make some progress.


If you are worried about whether mediation will work for you, give me a call and we can chat it through and work out whether it is appropriate to your circumstances. Call on 07706 513496 or email

What are the main barriers to a successful mediation?
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