What is the difference between Neutral and Impartial in mediation? I get asked this question fairly regularly. It is widely known that the role of a mediator Family Mediation Council Accredited (FMCA) mediators is to be impartial. In fact, this is one of the most basic tenants to our code of practice. But being impartial IS NOT anywhere near the same thing as being neutral.
Being impartial means that mediators can give lots of information to the clients we work with, without giving direct advice to either side. Impartiality has us driving the process of negotiation forwards, whilst always ensuring that it is fair and even handed. We make certain in financial discussions that both parties solidly understand their assets and liabilities available before negotiating a settlement.
Mediators lead conversations when developing the future parenting plans that ensure children are able to benefit from the on-going love and support of both parents as they grow. Mediators keep the balance of power in the room such that neither partner can take over, and that both people have the opportunity to speak, or reflect on options under consideration as the case may be. In short, FMCA mediators take the role of making sure that mediation is fair and that both parties are able to reach a fair settlement, safe in the knowledge that nobody is steamrollering the process.
In doing all of the above, FMCA mediators are impartial – not taking the side of either person, but we are certainly not in neutral. Despite the size and power of a car engine, if that engine that is in neutral it has no ability to apply that power. It is effectively impotent in that moment. FMCA mediators are never in neutral. We are always actively involved in a number of tasks at any given moment – even if it looks as if we are doing nothing at all. Mediators are continuously in gear, and work throughout any mediation (between mediation sessions as well as during the sessions themselves) to ensure that the mediation has the greatest possible chance of assisting divorcing couples reach a fair and equitable financial settlement. Allowing them to both more forward and find happiness in their lives.
If you would like more information about the difference between “Neutral” and “Impartial” in mediation or how family mediation can assist you in your separation, please call the offices of New Landscape Mediation on 01279 211 657 for a free, no obligation discussion of your needs.