Shuttle mediation is a form of mediation where, instead of the couple being in the same room as the mediator, they are in separate rooms and the mediator effectively shuttles in-between rooms.
Shuttle mediation can be used in cases where mediation is not appropriate because one or both clients, for whatever reason, do not feel comfortable being in the same room as each other. This may be due to past coercive or controlling behaviour by one client or if one of the clients 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 to one client what has been said by the other client. Witnessing discussions between clients directly 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 to not feel pressurised as a result of the other person’s presence. If one feels shuttle mediation might be appropriate in their case, it is sensible to discuss this with the mediator to check that mediation itself is appropriate and also so one is fully comfortable with the arrangements that will be put in place for shuttle mediation. This is particularly true if, due to the past behaviour of one client, the other client does not feel comfortable in their presence.
Shuttle mediation can also be used for the whole of the mediation process or just to deal with a particular issue that the parties may feel would be easier to discuss if they are not in the same room.