• Temara Willis

Shuttle mediation. How does it work?

Family mediation is sometimes required when separating, or separated couples need support to work through disagreements that they haven't been able to resolve independently. With the help of a family dispute resolution practitioner (mediator), we identify the disputed issues, brainstorm, weigh up different options, and try to reach an agreement. The mediator does make the decisions for either person, find who is at fault, or determine what they believe is fair. Mediation is most commonly voluntarily; however, you might have a court order requiring you to attend.

You might think that mediation is unsuitable because you can't be in the same room as your ex-partner. There are many reasons you might not want to be in the same room, such as previous domestic violence, emotion overload, or anxiety. If this is the case, there is a solution. At Adelaide Family Mediation, we offer what is commonly referred to as shuttle mediation. Shuttle mediation is a fantastic option for parties to reach an agreement and remain out of court where they thought mediation might not otherwise be possible.

Shuttle mediation follows the same principles as face to face mediation. With the assistance of a dispute resolution practitioner (the mediator), the parties in a dispute will still identify the issues, brainstorm solutions, weigh up their options and strive to reach an agreement. However, this is done without you seeing or even speaking with the other person. The mediator will move between parties in a different room or on a separate teleconference line or sometimes book the session on entirely different days. The mediator passes on your ideas, expectations, and interests, discusses this with the other person, and then responds. Shuttle mediation is an option for parenting, property and financial issues.

So what is the downside of shuttle mediation?

Shuttle mediation is an excellent solution for parties that can't or don't want to be in the same room or speaking directly with each other; however, there are some downsides. Sometimes the messaging can get lost in translation. You require the mediator to communicate your message productively while also conveying the message correctly. Shuttle mediation also takes longer as the mediator is hearing what a party wants, and they have to take the time to communicate it back to the other party. Sometimes parties don't think that the time isn't equally spent, and sometimes this happens. One party might require more time to understand the issues and then communicate their thoughts to the mediator, while the other party might not.

It can also be more challenging for the mediator. I have had clients that have made statements like "why are you doing this to me" or "you need to convince/tell them..." and unfortunately, at times, a party will vent their anger towards the mediator, blaming the messenger instead of the message.

Overall though, shuttle mediation is a good alternative and a lot less adversarial than going to court. While it is still challenging, the process will be quicker and can still deliver the agreement you need.

If you want to consider shuttle mediation, let us know. Adelaide Family Mediation will organise with you how to manage this in the safest, most effective way possible. If not feasible or viable, we will let you know after you have completed the Intake and Assessment. Call us today on 0410 928 191 or email

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