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Family Mediation: Choose the Type Best Suited to Your Conflict

20th January 2022 by Kenneth Clarke

Categories: What's New?
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The phrase one shoe doesn’t fit all is a perfect description of how versatile mediators have to be when helping couples settle family disputes. High emotion, unrealistic expectations and a stubborn determination not to compromise are frequent sentiments in mediation sessions.

Fortunately mediators are able to utilise a range of models and methodology to fit the needs of each case.

The three main models employed are:

  • Evaluative
  • Facilitative
  • Transformative

EVALUATIVE mediation is when the mediator exerts the most control and is a model favoured by lawyer mediators in particular. The mediator offers opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the party’s positions and proposals.

The tools in the evaluative mediator’s tool box include;

  • Assessment
  • Listening
  • Evaluating proposals from a legal perspective
  • Predicting possible legal outcomes if there is no settlement
  • Recommendations (other possible options)
  • Using shuttle to manage the power imbalance

Who does this work well for?

For cases where there is a significant power imbalance and is well suited to divorce mediations, where the mediator drives the conversation in order to focus the parties on the vital issues to be resolved.

FACILITATIVE mediation is the middle of the road model in terms of the mediators input and control over the process.

The parties have more direct control over the outcome whilst the mediator maintains boundaries to ensure there is a level playing field. Their involvement is less intrusive. The mediator encourages the parties to be creative in their discussions and proposals. 

The main features of the facilitative model are;

  • Collaboration (between the parties)
  • Questions (the mediator asks questions that help parties address underlying issues and needs)
  • No opinion (the mediator avoids sharing their opinion unless absolutely necessary)
  • Diffusion (the mediator manages strong emotions by steering the conversation out of troubled waters)
  • Acknowledgment (the mediator encourages the parties to listen and understand each other’s position, needs and interests)
  • Shuttle/Joint sessions (striking a balance between control and empathy)

Who does this work well for?

Parties who are on their way to a settlement and understand each other’s needs.

TRANSFORMATIVE mediation is perhaps the newest addition to the formats available to the creative mediator where the participants have the most control both in terms of the procedure and the outcome. The mediator’s role is mainly to seek to transform the conflict by helping to empower the parties to reach agreement. In essence the mediator is only there to highlight needs, interests, values and the points of view of each party. The goal is that the parties leave the process with a more collaborative relationship.

In transformative mediation the mediator:

  • Gives no opinion
  • Encourages evaluation of both parties needs and interests
  • Follows the lead of the parties to encourage positive participation so that they retain control
  • Encourages empathy so that both sides needs are met
  • Guides the parties as they near settlement rather than act as a figure of authority
  • Mediates in joint sessions rather than shuttle because only the parties can drive the mediation and shuttle would de-humanise the interaction of the parties

Who does this work well for?

This can be very effective in children cases, where sustaining ongoing positive parental communication is essential if children are to be shielded from conflict.

These options allow us to choose the best mediation style depending on your needs and what will work best to provide a successful outcome.

If you would like any further advice on Mediation, please visit our Family Mediation page on our website or  contact our Mediation department directly on 01202 377993 or

Kenneth Clarke

Senior Associate — Family Mediation

Direct dial: 01202 377993


Kenneth Clarke
  • “Came to Laceys Mediation after my previous solicitor wasn’t living up to expectations. Laceys Mediation was the best decision I ever made, Kenneth Clarke is some awesome mediator, he was so patient and his knowledge was very helpful. Thank you all for your support.”

    Rejoice Aggor-Mensa

  • “I was very happy with the sensitive way the issues around my divorce was handled by Kenneth Clarke. I was also more than satisfied with the way my daughter, Nina, was spoken to and helped her voice to be heard in the decision making process.”

    Brian Charles Hart

  • “What could have potentially been an extremely upsetting and inflammatory scenario, proved to be a surprisingly smooth and conflict free process through Laceys Mediation. With Kenneth’s extensive experience we were able to reach an agreeable outcome without spending our life savings!”

    Julie Morris

  • “Kenneth went that extra mile to explain and reiterate it to other party. outstanding and so very professional.”

    Lee Emm

Kenneth is the elder statesman of our mediation team, with forty years’ experience as a family lawyer, and qualified as a mediator in 1996. Kenneth has been a key member of the Laceys mediation team since 2005, specialising in financial and children cases, with a particular interest and specialisation in high conflict cases.

Kenneth is also qualified to consult with children, a growing part of the mediation process. Always looking to expand the boundaries of mediation practice,  Kenneth brings a degree of gravitas, humour, understanding and empathy when he mediates with clients,  creating a positive environment in which clients work together to resolve their issues quickly and cost-effectively.

Out of office hours, Kenneth’s main passion is writing musical theatre. When he has time Kenneth also enjoys travel, especially cruising.

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