When it comes to family mediations, it is best to only include the necessary stakeholders in the Mediation. For instance, mediations involving parenting plans are typically best when only attended by the parents or guardians of the child/ren the plan is being created for. Occasionally, if both parents are comfortable, new spouses will also attend mediation sessions because in many cases they are greatly impacted by the parenting plan and may have an important relationship with the child/ren. However, it is rarely helpful to have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or family friends attend and participate in a mediation.
Mediation is designed to be a confidential place where people in conflict are able to share information with each other. The dynamic of a mediation is greatly impacted when an audience is present. Imagine a situation in which you are in a disagreement with a coworker. Now imagine your boss walks in and begins to witness the disagreement. Does the situation feel different? A similar dynamic happens in mediation when there is an audience present. The Harvard Program on Negotiations wrote a great article explaining the effects of an audience on mediation.