An academic report from 2014 has demonstrated that couples who went to mediation ‘were generally more willing and able to reach an agreement’ than those who chose to follow a court-based route for separation. For couples with children, an out-of-court process like mediation can make a vast difference to future their relationship as co-parents, and can pave the way for a positive outlook after separation.
Discussing the issues and details of separation can be difficult, but it’s important for parents to be able to work through their problems so that cooperation is possible in the future. One of the main purposes of mediation is to establish a line of communication and support couples through their dispute resolution – by using this time to settle their differences and agree on a practical plan for sharing the responsibility for children, parents are far better equipped to cope with life after separation.
While mediation is not a form of relationship counselling it can be greatly beneficial to parents who are struggling to discuss their issues. There are so many decisions to consider when it comes to co-parenting as a separated couple, and it can often be difficult to see clearly when you’re going through an emotional time. Mediation offers a neutral, private space to determine child maintenance, living arrangements, contact agreements, and the division of property and assets without the implication of blame that is too often found in court negotiations.
Frances Lindsay is a Resolution-trained mediator and family law solicitor and has experience in many different methods of separation. She recommends mediation to couples with children as a productive and effective way of moving forward:
“Separation is hard for both parents and children. Of course parents want to protect their children from harm but that is very difficult if you yourself are hurt and angry and fearful. Mediation can help you work that out and help you find a way of dealing not only with your partner but your children too. Remember that no matter what, you will always be your children’s parents, and they will want to see you both at their weddings, graduations and other special events without the worry that you can’t bear to be in the same room as one another! Mediation helps you to start as you mean to go on and find a way to communicate with each other.”
On average, couples will attend four mediation sessions lasting up to two hours each. During this time, they will be able to discuss the issues of their situation in a safe and objective environment. A mediator-solicitor is experienced in family law and will be able to suggest options tailored to the needs of the family. Once an agreement has been made, the mediator will provide the couple with a binding legal document setting out the details of the decisions made in the sessions.
Mediation has been shown to be faster, cheaper and less stressful than court divorce in the majority of cases, and is especially useful for separating parents. More importantly, the decisions made during mediation and other out-of-court methods of separation like collaborative family law are generally more successful in the long run for couples with children, enabling them to move on and co-parent amicably, and reducing the emotional impact on their children.
To speak with a mediator-solicitor or family lawyer about out-of-court options for dispute resolution, call 01628 634667 or visit www.franceslindsay.co.uk.mediation lawyer Beaconsfield, mediation lawyer Henley, mediation lawyer Marlow, mediation solicitor Berkshire, mediation solicitor Buckinghamshire, mediation solicitor Maidenhead, mediation solicitor Thames Valley