Shuttle Mediation Explained

Shuttle mediation is a form of mediation where, instead of the former couple being in the same room as the mediator, they are in separate rooms and the mediator effectively shuttles in-between.

Shuttle mediation can be used in cases where mediation is not appropriate because one or both of the former couple, for whatever reason, do not feel comfortable being in the same room.

This could for example be due to past coercive or controlling behaviour or if one person is still finding it difficult to come to terms with the end of the relationship.

The potential disadvantage of shuttle mediation is that there is inevitably a duplication of costs because the mediator has to repeat what has been said by the other person.

There are also usually advantages to having the discussions direct, but in the presence of an independent mediator.

Witnessing these discussions direct can enable the mediator to assist with improving communication going forward particularly if, for example, there is a need for future co-parenting.

Ultimately the most important thing with regard to mediation is that both feel comfortable to discuss issues openly with the mediator and do not feel pressurised as a result of the other person’s presence.

If you feel shuttle mediation might be appropriate in your case, it is sensible to discuss this with the mediator; first to check that mediation itself is appropriate and secondly that you are fully comfortable with the arrangements that will be put in place for shuttle mediation – particularly if due to past behaviour you would not feel comfortable in some situations if for example you saw the other person in the car park.

Shuttle mediation can be used for the whole of the mediation process or just to deal with a particular issue that the parties feel would be easier to discuss if they are not in the same room.

Written by Kirstie Law Solicitor, Collaborative Lawyer and Mediatorat Thomson Snell & Passmore. Visit www.ts-p.co.uk for further information.

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PHOTO: DANIEL FOSTER

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