Having spent a reported £1 million on legal fees, Ant is suggesting he and his wife attend mediation to try to reach agreement. So what are the benefits of mediation? In my opinion...

The end of a marriage can be very traumatic. People are entering a new unknown landscape in terms of living separately and going through the divorce process. Lots of different and very difficult emotions can be involved, overwhelming feelings of loss, guilt, blame and being wronged.  These emotions can naturally fuel decision making, and result in it being very difficult for people to focus on the factual decisions that inevitably need to be made. Doing everything through solicitors can make this worse because unless both solicitors are extremely careful in how they act the process can reinforce people taking opposite polar positions on things, and reinforce emotions of blame, guilt and being wronged. It can also ramp up the conflict between people and increase feelings of defensiveness.  

There are always two points of view and two lots of concerns, and rarely is one person completely unreasonable. In mediation it is the mediator's job to try and help the separating couple to communicate, hear and understand each other's concerns. This is done through giving people a chance to speak to each other in a controlled way, asking lots of questions about things, acknowledging the importance of concerns and focusing on what is important to both for the future. It is often the case that people want the same things and there is a lot of agreement, but overriding emotions about the ending of the relationship can make it difficult to focus on these. It is the mediator's job to acknowledge these emotions but at the same time help people focus on what they both want for the future and how they are going to get there. It gives parents the chance to discuss in a controlled environment how they are going to work together in the future, however difficult this might seem. This is not easy, but especially when people are parents, it can have a very long lasting beneficial impact on both them and importantly their children.