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  • Ed

(It's not just a) family affair

Northwest Mediation has helped out businesses, couples, neighbours and families in a variety of disputes.

That’s because mediation isn’t limited in application to family disputes, it can resolve disputes over inheritance and care, even in some of the most complex cases. This was recognised recently in California where the emotionally, medically and legally complex of Ryan Morris, is being pursued through the courts.

Ryan is severely disabled, his husband, Sean Spicer (no not the one from the Whitehouse) who is also Ryan’s guardian is in dispute with Ryan’s biological family (including his twin brother) over whether Spicer’s position is acceptable.

The parties have been sent for mediation by Judge Thomas Cahraman’s of the probate court and told to report back later in the year on progress.

Of course in this case Ryan wasn’t able to have a say, he is on powerful medications and now has the intelligence levels of a five year old.

The parties agree, as so often parents do in cases revolving around children that Ryan needs a guardian, but who that should be is at the heart of this family feud.

Spicer contends that the real issue is that Ryan’s family don’t accept Ryan is gay whereas the family allege there is sexual and psychological abuse by Spicer.

Northwest Mediation has helped families at war over care for other members of the family and I know how fractious and argumentative parties can get but being a mediator has incredible rewards as you can assist those people who cannot reach agreement by themselves work towards a resolution for the benefit of their child or family member.

Meanwhile the home of UK’s leading post graduate mediation programme Strathclyde Law School is to host the 16th annual INADR International Law Student Mediation Tournament.

Although this tournament is limited to law students who will come to Glasgow from around the world to compete in friendly competition mediators in the real world are not solely from a legal background.

I’ve had the benefit of meeting mediators whose backgrounds vary from, yes, law but including police officers, teachers, social workers, builders, architects and civil servants.

The greatest challenge for those of us with a legal background is always avoiding advising clients, it’s not always easy and no doubt the International Academy for Dispute Resolution from Chicago which sponsors this competition will ensure that this quantum leap in dealing with disputes is understood by all taking part.

If you have a problem which requires mediation, be it family or commercial dispute resolution contact Ed Johnson on 07931318347 or via email at

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