During the week 24 to 28 September, Resolution, an organisation of family lawyers, arranged a campaign to raise public awareness of the alternatives to court available to separating or divorcing couples.
In support of this campaign the family team at my firm, Fisher Meredith, offered a series of free information sessions to members of the public, coupled with informative articles about the mediation process which appeared on the Fisher Meredith website.
At the end of the week I attended Resolution’s annual Dispute Resolution Conference in Oxford. This was attended by around 175 family lawyers, all subscribing to the principle that there is often a better way of resolving family conflict than becoming embroiled in the court system.
We were encouraged, educated and enthused by the speakers, workshops and animated conversations with like minded family solicitors (this went some way to make up for the fact that we were accommodated in student halls, which many said, brought back memories of exams!). It proved to be an inspiring event re-igniting hopes that many more people will turn to alternatives to family court litigation to resolve their differences.
Unfortunately it seems that despite the best efforts of Resolution a large proportion of the public still appear unaware of the options that are available to them, and particularly what mediation actually means. Please read Separating Couples Ignorant of Dispute Resolution Options article published by the Law Society Gazette discussing survey results.
I am still hearing from people that they don’t want to engage in mediation because they are not interested in reconciling with their partner. Although a lot of people have now heard of family mediation, not that many seem aware of the equally powerful process of Collaborative Law.
I came away from this year’s conference positive that before the 2013 conference, I, together with other trained mediators and collaborative lawyers, would be able to encourage more and more separating couples, where appropriate, to engage in either mediation or Collaborative Law.