9.57What was surprising were the clients’ expectations of mediation in the non-Family Court mediation agencies. Only 8% of men, and 15% of women, had an expectation of a fair agreement. The highest expectation (43% for men and 29% for women) was that there would be an “impartial third person and a neutral, stable environment”. The next highest expectation (12% for men and 26% for the women) was to improve communication. In contrast, the Family Court mediation service was dominated by an expectation of a fair agreement (48% for men and 46% for women). The figures for the “impartial third person and a neutral, stable environment” criteria were 21% for men and 19% for women.
9.58Clients were asked what factors they believed had prevented them from working out their problems between themselves. The highest figures related to the ex-partner’s attitude. Lawyers were cited as a factor in preventing resolution of the dispute by between 12% and 15% of men and between 0% and 5% of women, varying with the agency attended. The “children’s wishes” were cited in relation to one agency by 12% of men and 5% of women. Only 12% to 19% agreed that they would have reached a more favourable settlement by going to court. An average of 75% felt that the mediation agreement was “close to the legal information they had received” about the parameters of settlement.
Agreements on child-related issues
9.59 In the combined sample of 27 cases from the two non-Family Court mediation services, 41% reached full agreement, 37% partial agreement and 22% did not reach agreement.995 Only five cases in this sample involved custody disputes. Forty per cent of the sample reached full agreement on child-related issues, 40% reached partial agreement, and 20% did not reach agreement. With access disputes, 77% of the sample cases from the two non-Family Court mediation services reached full agreement, 8% partial agreement and 15% no agreement.
9.60In the Family Court mediation service, in a sample of 66 cases, 88% reached full agreement and 8% reached partial agreement. Ninety-four per cent of custody disputes reached full agreement, 3% partial agreement and 3% no agreement. Ninety-two per cent of access disputes in the sample from the Family Court mediation service reached full agreement, 7% partial agreement and 1% no agreement.
9.61 When satisfaction was measured in respect of child related issues, the highest rate of satisfaction was reported in response to a question, “I felt that the agreement regarding children was practical, realistic and workable”. This varied between 64% and 87%, depending on the agency attended. Between 42% and 75% agreed with the statement, “mediation helped us to agree about the time children will spend with the parent they don’t live with”.
9.62Clients recorded very high rates of satisfaction with the professional skills and impartiality of the mediators, the adequacy of information received and with the impact of mediation on their relationship. Over 75% reached agreement. Those taking part in the survey “reported a significant shift in their perceived dependence on lawyers and the courts in the handling of new problems relating to
995 Ibid at 51.