As a trained family mediator I have found that many family lawyers comment that their clients have mixed and confusing views on what is best for the children when they separate from their partner.
Often (and sadly) we will see one party pay lip service to the promotion of contact with the other parent whilst appearing to do everything they can to denigrate their ex and to put obstacles in the way of co-operative management of their children’s arrangements.
Some parents will refuse to allow the child to meet the other parent’s new partner even when they themselves have new partners.
In such circumstances, it seems that little attention is paid to the child’s wishes or aims and they can, unfortunately, become unwitting pawns in an increasingly bitter battle between the two most important people in their young lives.
The starting point is that the parents should agree about the arrangements for the children between themselves by being “responsible” parents, and focussing on the interests and welfare of their children. If parents cannot resolve the issues themselves when they face the risk of a court imposing a solution upon them, which may not be to either’s satisfaction and may not help the child also.
That is why the government and courts want people to try Family Mediation before they issue court applications. Mediation is a different way of helping parents resolve their issues between themselves with the help of an impartial mediator. The mediator does not impose a solution and does not make judgments on who is right or wrong. Our role, as a family mediator, is to try to help parents to reach an acceptable solution between themselves; to focus as a team on their children; improve communication and to listen to each other. Research shows that parents who settle issues in mediation are far more likely to stick to their agreed arrangements and to encourage further discussion when circumstances require. Many parents going through mediation tell us that they communicate better and understand each other.
Mediation offers parents the opportunity and a forum to raise and discuss issues – even to argue – which is not available in court proceedings. Indeed many parents who “want their day” are frustrated by the process which often does not allow them to be heard as they would wish.
Mediation is a voluntary process and does not suit everyone. I tell parents that they have to want a solution and be prepared to compromise; otherwise, there is no point in proceeding with mediation.
Family Mediation is worth considering in all such cases, or when dealing with financial and property matters on a divorce, or co-habitation breakdown where there are similar issues regarding child arrangements or property co-ownership problems.
Beswicks’ family lawyers can bring an extra dimension offering Family Mediation to separated couples where outcomes can be achieved much quicker and often significantly cheaper than each of them using a lawyer and incurring heavy legal costs.