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5 Reasons why your Family Mediation may not be Working (And How to Fix It)

5 Common reasons why your Family Mediation may not be Progressing.

Family Mediator in a MIAMWe have discussed in our blogs how family mediation is a proven method for resolving conflicts and improving communication. Mediate UK have a 90% success rate for our clients, however, we know there can be some hurdles to encounter along the way. Here we will look at 5 common reasons why your family mediation may not be progressing as hoped and provide some practical solutions to overcome these challenges.

1) Lack of Open Communication

One of the primary reasons why family mediation may falter is the presence of communication barriers between the two parties. Ineffective communication can lead to misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and an inability to express emotions or concerns adequately. A lack of open communication can hinder the mediation process and prevent parties from finding common ground.


a) Establish ground rules: Your mediator will help create an atmosphere of respect and understanding by establishing ground rules for communication. Encourage active listening, speaking without interruption, and by addressing one issue at a time.

b) Be Empathetic: In family mediation, we emphasize the importance of empathy. Demonstrating empathy promotes a better understanding, making it easier for you to find mutually agreeable solutions.

c) Use neutral language: Mediators can help reframe statements to be less accusatory and more neutral, focusing on the underlying interests rather than personal attacks. This approach encourages a more constructive dialogue.

2) Unresolved Emotional Baggage

Woman with wedding ringFamily conflicts are often deeply rooted in past experiences, unresolved emotions, or long-standing grievances. If these underlying emotional issues are not addressed, they can sabotage the whole mediation process. Emotional baggage can cloud judgement, hinder compromise, and prevent parties from exploring creative solutions.


a) Reflect on emotions and underlying causes: Take the time to individually reflect on your emotions and explore the root causes of your grievances. Understanding your own feelings whilst gaining insight into the emotions of others, can foster empathy and pave the way for productive mediation discussions.

b) Focus on moving forward: During family mediation, the focus should be on moving forward and finding constructive solutions rather than dwelling on past grievances. However, it is crucial to strike a balance that respects everyone’s feelings without invalidating them. Mediators understand that each person’s emotions are valid and have their own unique perspective.

The goal is to help all parties involved recognise their emotions, understand the impact they have on the conflict and find ways to move forward constructively.

3) Inflexibility and Resistance to Change

Another possible obstacle in family mediation is when parties become entrenched in their positions and are unwilling to consider alternative viewpoints.


a) Promote brainstorming: your mediator will encourage a collaborative environment where you can ‘brainstorm’ potential solutions without judgment or criticism. This widens your range of possibilities.

b) Focus on shared interests: Mediators strive to help parties identify their shared interests rather than fixating on opposing positions. By shifting the focus to common goals, it becomes easier to find mutually agreeable options. For example, “Do you want your daughter to have a good and loving relationship with both her parents?”

c) Break issues into smaller parts: If a conflict seems insurmountable, your mediator can break it down into smaller, more manageable issues. Addressing each concern separately allows for incremental progress and builds momentum towards an overall resolution.

4) Failure to Prepare Finances

Calculator and coffeeInadequate preparation of finances can also impede the family mediation process.  This can undermine trust and compromise the integrity of the negotiations, leading to misunderstandings or disputes.

How to Fix It:

a) Gather financial documents: Ensure that all relevant financial documents, such as bank statements, CETVs, tax documents, and property records, are collected and organised beforehand. This allows for a more comprehensive discussion and informed decision-making. You will need all this information if family mediation breaks down, so you may as well collate it all now.

b) Seek professional advice: If financial matters are complex or difficult to navigate, consider seeking professional advice from experts such as financial advisors, accountants, or family law solicitors.

5) Disregarding the Focus on Needs

Failing to prioritise the needs of both parties involved, including the needs of children if applicable, can have a detrimental impact on the mediation process. When individuals overlook the importance of addressing underlying needs, it becomes challenging to achieve a sustainable agreement. Remember, future need is the main concern that a court will look at if your mediation breaks down.


a) Identify and prioritise needs: Have a comprehensive discussion where you can both identify and express your realistic future needs. Your mediator will encourage open and honest communication to ensure that everyone’s concerns are heard and acknowledged.

b) Separate wants from needs: Differentiate between your positions (ie: what you want) and your underlying needs (ie: the reasons behind what you want). By understanding the core needs driving each party. Family mediators can guide the process towards finding solutions that address both your needs.

c) Consider the needs of children: If children are involved in the dispute, their well-being should be a primary consideration. Family mediation presents an environment where parents can openly discuss and prioritise the needs of their children. By focusing on your children’s best interests, you are more likely to work towards solutions that supports the overall welfare of all those involved.


 ‘We have our differences, but we put those aside and now we’re making music’ – Alex Van Halen.


We understand that divorce or separation can be challenging, but finding a way to move forward with solutions that work for all parties involved is key to creating a better life in your future. By embracing the mediation process, acknowledging the difficulties and working together towards a mutually beneficial agreement, you can pave the way for a brighter future and a more fulfilling life for everyone involved.


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