Family Mediation – Family Disputes are not so Much Between Right and Wrong as Right and Right

family disputes and family mediation
Paul Sandford
Paul Sandford
Mediator and
Tribunal Judge

Does anyone remember the film, Annie Hall?

In one scene, the screen divides into two showing Annie played by Diane Keaton and Alvie, the Woody Allen character discussing their relationship with their analysts.

Alvie’s analyst asks him, “how often do you have sex together?” He replies-“Hardly ever! I’d say three times a week”.

In response to a similar question from her analyst Annie replies-“Constantly! I’d say three times a week”.

This exchange is not untypical of the emotionally charged disagreements that surface when couples separate.

All too often, e.g. when they are discussing things between themselves or being advised by their lawyers and certainly, when they are in court, this sort of issue which may have underlying significance is either put to one side or is ignored completely.

It is all too often forgotten that disagreements such as Annie and Alvie’s can have a very significant bearing on a couple’s relationship and how they deal with their breakup.

The net effect could be that such issues as child contact are not properly resolved and months or even years down the line the parties find that they are still in conflict with one another.

Mediators are not surrogate therapists or counsellors but in the course of the private, confidential sessions that they facilitate, issues such as those identified by Annie and Alvie can be given proper acknowledgement and if appropriate can be discussed.

Consideration of such issues might result in an acknowledgment by one or both parties which could in turn help them to draw a line and move on.

About Paul

Paul Sandford ( http://www.albertsquaremediation.co.uk/ ) is an accredited civil mediator and Tribunal Judge. He is also an associate of a Birmingham-based firm of solicitors, My Business Counsel.

He mediates for a leading UK charity and has the benefit of having worked as a solicitor for around 25 years.  He has also worked as a trainer and university lecturer and has considerable experience of working with people who are disabled or who do not have English as a first language.

As well as being Regents University accredited, Paul recently completed ADRg civil/commercial and family training .

He has particular  knowledge and experience of housing, property/commercial, medical and public law issues and employment, workplace, family and educational disputes. He is a member of two mediation panels: Clerksroom, which has excellent conference call facilities, and the Business Mediation Group. In his spare time Paul enjoys cooking, football, test cricket and listening to the blues, and fundraises for his school.



  1. […] In the course of reading an article in the London Magazine, Time out, which comprised of a sequence of potted, very well-written reviews about films with a Valentine’s Day type theme*, I was delighted to chance upon an appraisal of Annie Hall which is possibly my favourite film of all time and which featured in one of my earlier blogs. […]

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