Welcome to my new blog!
Family Mediation Week 18 – 22 January 2021
What better way to start my new blog than to coincide with Family Mediation Week.
Family mediation has been available in this country to couples whose relationship has broken down for over 25 years but there are still a lot of unknowns about mediation. Family Mediation Week aims to raise awareness of mediation and how it can help separating couples manage their issues collaboratively and productively.
I began working in family law over 22 years ago. I began as a paralegal in a family department and later qualified as a solicitor. At that time I undertook a lot of legal aid work and it was a requirement for most clients that they had to meet with a mediator to explore the possibility of attending mediation before they could apply for legal aid. That is still the case today but the need to consider mediation has been widened to all couples and only in exceptional circumstances can you apply to the court to deal with a family matter without meeting with a mediator.
I trained as a mediator in 2010 and the more mediation work I do the more I see how it benefits couples. As a mediator, I will of course, extol the benefits of mediation. I do this because I see how it helps couples. Yes, if you are separating from your partner you should seek advice from a solicitor and know what your legal rights are. However, this is the end of a relationship and using the traditional method of going to court and employing solicitors to end the relationship rarely helps the couple. Litigation means you each take a position as to what you are trying to achieve. It doesn’t enable you to talk round what needs to happen or work at a pace which takes into account the emotional place you are each in.
I believe mediation is crucial is where there are children. You are still going to have to parent the children and make joint decisions about them even if you are separating. So often as a relationship breaks down it is the communication which a couple find the hardest. Mediation will help you with communicating and this nearly always leads to being able to narrow down some of the issues between the two of you.
Last year I trained as a Child Inclusive Mediator which means that I can now meet with children alongside the mediation process. Usually the children will be over the age of 10 for me to meet with them but sometimes I may meet with slightly younger children. Child Inclusive Mediation gives the children the opportunity to speak to someone independent about how life is for them at the moment. It’s a very powerful process.
The end of a relationship is not just the legalities needed to finalise the arrangements for the children or the sharing of the assets. It is accepting that you had a history together, that there will be emotions involved which can colour how you are dealing with things. My role as mediator is to help you communicate and therefore make the decisions which are needed in a way which respects the relationship you once had.
Let’s celebrate the benefits of mediation and use Family Mediation Week to raise awareness.