What is Shuttle Mediation?

For those who may not be able to attend mediation face to face due to safety concerns or the need for flexibility around childcare and parenting arrangements, shuttle mediation can be an excellent option. The big difference to a conventional mediation is that instead of everyone meeting together, the parties remain in separate rooms (either physically or virtual such as over telephone or video conference) whilst the mediator ‘shuttles’ between them.

This can be conducted either for the entire mediation process or just a short time-out to deal with one or two issues that the parties feel would be more easily discussed if they were not in each other’s presence. It is important that the FDRP (Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner) understands your safety concerns and assesses your case carefully to ensure that shuttle mediation is appropriate. If it is, the FDRP will set the arrangements for you – usually starting with pre-mediation assessment sessions where they listen to you in full and help clarify your concerns and needs.

If you decide to go down the route of shuttle mediation, then your next step will be to meet in individual sessions with your FDRP. They will take the opportunity to explore your issues with you, help you identify what you want to achieve from mediation and then assist you to work towards an agreement with your partner or spouse.

During these sessions, the FDRP will talk with both you and your partner/spouse in turn – this can be very helpful in clarifying your priorities and helping you hone in on the key areas that need to be addressed in order to reach a settlement. It can also be very helpful in addressing issues that you and your partner are finding difficult to communicate about.

In my experience, the most difficult issues to resolve in family cases can often come down to communication problems between people. If you can find a way to communicate better, then your agreement with your partner or spouse will be easier and likely more successful.

For many couples, hearing the other person say something affirming, even if it is simply that they acknowledge the impact of your relationship on the children can have a profound effect. It is a real challenge to replicate this in shuttle mediation and arguably impossible without raising issues of privacy, confidentiality and propriety. If you are considering a shuttle style mediation, the FDRP will discuss this with you in detail and explain how this can be done most effectively if it is required. You will also be made aware of the possible risks involved in this type of mediation if it is recommended. This is especially important in cases where there has been a history of family violence and abuse and where safety and protection is a major concern. what is shuttle mediation

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