couple in hybrid mediation

Are you expecting a complex divorce? If your relationship involves such challenging factors as high value finances and child arrangements, the chances of conflict will usually be higher. In some cases, it might even seem like the issues are too deeply rooted to be calmly resolved.    

This is where mediation comes in. As a neutral third party, a mediator can bring couples together to reach agreements over the main areas of dispute. However, there is more than one mediative approach, so it’s important to find the right one for you.

Hybrid mediation is one potential solution for your divorce. A mixture of mediation and litigation techniques, it can reduce stress and dramatically cut the time it takes to reach an understanding. 

So, what is it, and is it right for you? 

What is Hybrid Mediation?

Hybrid mediation is an interesting option for families with unresolved issues. It combines key aspects of traditional mediation and litigation, and also uses a number of legal negotiation techniques. Sessions are client-led, making it easier to adopt a personalised approach that can address a range of complex topics.

Hybrid mediation can be used to resolve conflicts between married couples, civil partners, family members, and cohabitees. Those conflicts often revolve around financial arrangements, child arrangements, inheritance disputes, and broader family conflicts. 

This approach can also be extremely effective during complex high net worth divorces. Relationships involving significant wealth often raise intricate issues over international jurisdiction and child relocation.

How Does Hybrid Mediation Work?

Typically, the hybrid combination of mediation and litigation works in the following ways:

  • The mediation process will be explained to the clients and any safeguarding issues will be raised at this stage. It will then be decided how appropriate mediation is for the relationship.
  • The mediator will meet with legal teams to discuss their role in the process.
  • For in-person sessions, couples are to be kept in separate rooms. For online sessions, each person will have their own virtual space. A party’s solicitor will be on hand when required to offer guidance and advice as and when it’s needed. Other neutral third parties, such as financial or tax experts, may take part if it is appropriate.
  • There should be no direct confrontation at any point. The case mediator will move from room to room as they look to reach agreements on key talking points.
  • Sessions may last anywhere between half a day and a full day.
  • When settlements are reached, legal teams can immediately start to prepare documentation.

Hybrid mediation can also be used in combination with other forms of alternative dispute resolution. These often include arbitration, early neutral evaluation, collaborative law, and more.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Mediation For Divorce?

Hybrid mediation can be a cost-effective way to bring couples together and resolve issues more efficiently. It can help with relationships that have safeguarding issues or complex finances, and benefits from the support of trained professionals. However, it can be complicated and relies upon total commitment from all parties, meaning it might not work for everyone.

There are a range of potential pros and cons of hybrid mediation in divorce that your family law solicitor could choose to discuss:

Positives of Hybrid Mediation 

One of the biggest advantages of hybrid mediation is that it can reduce the time and stress involved in a separation. It gives all sides the chance to discuss options, offering a more open and constructive atmosphere for talks to take place. If there are concerns about safeguarding, especially over children, the distance between participants can make it easier for them to open up.

In standard mediation sessions, the client enters the session with just a spouse and mediator present. In hybrid mediation and litigation one of the biggest advantages is that your solicitor will also be there to accompany you. This often makes clients feel much more comfortable.

Because hybrid mediation involves trained specialists, their skills and understanding can be used to make suggestions and innovative solutions. When couples feel that they are part of an informed process, it’s much more likely to lead to a more practical and fair settlement. 

Finally, this approach is also flexible, as it can take place before or during court action. This means that it often results in quicker settlements, reducing costs and minimising stress in the process. 

Negatives of Hybrid Mediation

There are very few obvious drawbacks regarding hybrid mediation. However, its chances of success will depend upon both parties being fully committed to the process. Following an assessment, each partner will have the opportunity to decide if it is the right approach for them — something which is not always guaranteed.

Expense is also seen as one of the occasional disadvantages of mediation and litigation. If additional professionals are involved alongside the mediator, you can expect to see costs rise.

Because the process is voluntary, some people might also be put off by the length of sessions. ‘Typical’ mediation sessions take between an hour and two hours, whereas hybrid meetings often last for a full day. However, this additional time usually means that much more ground can be covered.

hands during hybrid mediation

Is Hybrid Mediation Right For Me?

Hybrid mediation can be an extremely effective technique for a number of family matters. It is especially useful when helping to resolve complex disputes after the breakdown in a long-term relationship. This approach is often used to simplify divorce, but can be equally effective with cohabitation disputes and the end of civil partnerships.  

Hybrid mediation can be a promising strategy for legal firms looking to spare clients the additional stress and expense of going to court. Therefore, your family lawyer might suggest it if you can’t agree on the likes of child arrangements and financial settlements. However, it can also be employed to address inheritance disputes and broader family disagreements. 

When Does it Work Best?

Hybrid mediation can be an effective tool when:

  • The difficulties are complex
  • Separate meetings would help one or both parties to communicate
  • Tensions between parties make face-to-face contact difficult or impossible
  • The power dynamic is skewed in favour of one participant
  • There is a history of conflict
  • There is a history, or allegations, of abuse
  • Confidentiality is required

Ultimately, proceeding with hybrid mediation could come down to the opinion of the mediator. They will take into account any critical safeguarding issues, along with any other potential impediments to the process. These might include situations where communication has broken down irretrievably or one or both parties has a mental health issue that would limit progress.

If your relationship could benefit from hybrid mediation, it’s worth raising the subject with your solicitor. Some legal firms not only use their own in-house mediators, but can also draw upon other specialists that could help your case. These range from tax experts and financial accountants to trained counsellors for more emotionally challenging situations.

For more information about how our team can help, get in touch with us today.

Make Your Divorce Easier With Lowry Legal

Divorce is rarely easy. In complex divorce cases, you might need to make arrangements over children, finances, valuable assets, properties, and more. With so much at stake, it’s essential to obtain guidance from a specialist law firm that can help you to realise all of your goals.

Based in Manchester, but with offices across the UK, Lowry Legal is one of the country’s leading family law experts. We know that disputes can be extremely stressful, so we adopt a constructive approach to simplify your case. However, if mediation and collaboration aren’t practical, we’ll do what it takes to get your desired results.   

Our mission is to provide reliable legal guidance that puts you first. We’ll take the time to understand your circumstances before adopting the best strategy for your needs. We have an experienced in-house mediator and offer a holistic service that can harness the expertise of third parties when required.

To simplify your situation and take your next steps towards a resolution, get in touch today.