Mediation is a voluntary process. Whilst as a lawyer, I would actively encourage individuals to attempt mediation, anyone outside of the court process cannot be compelled to participate.
There are steps that can be taken to help convince reluctant ex-partners to come to the table. As a mediator, I will invite always invite each individual to a meeting to discuss their concerns and answer questions about the process. In practice I find that very often it is simply a question of reassuring individuals that the process is confidential, neutral and voluntary.
I also to assess whether mediation is appropriate for them. For the mediation process to be effective, it is essential that participants do not feel coerced or forced into mediation. As a mediator, I will look for signs of coercion and try to ensure that the individuals are attending of their own free will. The whole premise of mediation is compromised and undermined if that is not the case.
It is natural for individuals to feel nervous or slightly apprehensive about the process. The idea of talking to a stranger about personal family circumstances is not easy for anyone. My role as a mediator is to alleviate those concerns and try to find out from each individual what they would like to achieve from the mediation process, explain the format, and assess whether it is appropriate or not.
By doing so, I will be able to assess what the common goals of the individuals are and whether mediation is the right forum to achieve this. In this way all parties are starting off on the right foot and it is all the more likely that they will be able to reach an agreement on the issues in dispute.