Family Mediation Week – Day 5

A ray of sunshine

Today’s theme helps us to reflect on how successful mediation can transform post-separation relationships and allow everyone to move forward.

Highlights so far:

And, of course, Bill Hewlett’s day 5 contribution, which considers the positive effect on children of feeling like they have been listened to, that they no longer feel caught in the middle and can leave arrangements for their parents to deal with:

The Handover Book

In this video Ashley Palmer, co-creator of The Handover Book, explains how this resource can help parents who are struggling with communication in relation to their children.  The book serves the additional purpose of demonstrating to the children that the parents are working together, for them:

Family Mediation Week 2019 – Day 4

The clouds are parting

Today’s theme brings us further into the journey of divorce / separation, where clients feel themselves held safely in a structured process and can start to see a clear pathway.

When people separate there are often issues to resolve in relation to both finances and children.  Today’s articles reflect both areas.

On children, Bill Hewlett’s day 4 contribution reassures children who are considering talking to a mediator about confidentiality and how information is shared with parents:

Based on her experiences of working with families, Leigh Moriarty of the Conflict Clinic contributes a fantastic and well referenced article about the impact of parent conflict on children.  She also talks about how using their Handover Book can help parents to communicate more constructively, in the interests of their children.  You can find out more about and/or order The Handover Book here.

Philippa Johnston, FMA Chair, contributes a comprehensive article giving an overview of the mediation process in relation to both financial and children matters.  She makes the point that for financial issues both parties are required to share information about all their assets, debt and income.  In fact the requirements for financial disclosure are almost identical whether you choose to resolve your issues through mediation, solicitors or the court. The legal premise for this is based along the lines that you can’t decide what to do with what is in the ‘pot’ unless you know what is in the ‘pot!’

Family Mediation Week 2019 – Day 3

The storm will end when the pressure lifts

Bill Hewlett’s video today speaks directly to children who may be considering seeing a mediator.  It provides a helpful, brief but clear information for any child in this position to understand what to expect, and hopefully be reassured:

Also, lots of helpful articles on the Family Mediation Week blog.  I particularly like:

  • The storm will end when the pressure lifts – Philippa Johnson, Chair of FMA talking about how parents can co-parent more effectively.
  • So why should children be included in mediation? – Bill Hewlett talking frankly about the compelling reasons to give children the opportunity to participate in mediation.  One of the reasons he cites is that,  “[w]hen parents are fighting with each other they seem to lose their ability to be fully aware of how their children are feeling. The children may not want to say anything because they don’t want to add to an already stressful situation.”
  • Financial issues and mediation – Sally Clarke, FMA Board Secretary gives a helpful overview of the process and requirements for financial mediation.
  • Last but by no means least, Pensions made simple – where Bluesky Chartered Financial Planners share their guide to understanding the basic differences between types of pension scheme, which can be seen below also:

Family Mediation Week 2019 – Day 2

“Shelter from the Storm”

Tuesday saw another informative article from Philippa Johnston, this time about mediation and how it works: Day 2 Shelter from the storm which talks about mediation and makes the point that anyone can call themselves a family mediator but…

“…you need someone who has been properly trained, with recognised qualifications, with proper supervision. The Family Mediation Council (FMC) has a list of qualified family mediators… you can search by location, so that you can find someone close to you and you can also look for people offering particular services, for example, mediators able to work with your children as well as with you, or family mediators who provide mediation funded by legal aid.”

At Able Mediation, all of our mediators are Accredited by the FMC and we offer a full compliment of services, including working with children (free of charge) and the provision of Legal Aid.

There is a strong emphasis again on children with Bill Hewlett’s second video talking about how mediation can give children an opportunity to really get their voices heard by their parents during a time when there is so much competing noise:

Family Mediation Week 2019 – The storm before the calm

Well, it’s a case of “better late than never!” this year.  So, on day 3 of #familymediationweek, here is a summary of (my view of) the high lights so far….

Day 1 explored being “caught up in the storm,”  giving ideas about what to do and where to go.  This helpful article by Philippa Johnston, Chair of the FMA, sums up first steps when you’ve made that difficult decision to separate/divorce: Day 1 Caught up in the storm

A short video about Child Inclusive Mediation was also released, which gives a brief overview of the process:

 

Also a really helpful video from the University of Exeter about Mediating Safely has also been released.  This is part of the response the the recommendations of the Mapping Paths to Family Justice research and includes feedback from clients:

 

Family Mediation Week 2018

Day 1 of Family Mediation Week 2018 and the theme is ‘Somebody, please help!’

There are lots of really interesting articles to read relating to this theme that discuss the value and benefits of mediation on the Family Mediation Week Blog.

My picks of the day are the video from Fegans: Counselling Children, Supporting Parents and Wells Family Mediation, which gives a realistic sense of the impact of parental conflict on children…

… and this article from Glynne Davis that rings true with my professional experiences.

The seven habits of successful mediation participants

Written by Glynne Davies, College of Mediators

The seven habits of successful mediation participants. The following mini case studies are genuine, although the names have obviously been changed to protect…well me really!

1. They are sure that the relationship is over permanently

Mediation is a process designed to help couples, as famously said by Gwyneth Paltrow, consciously uncouple. If you are harbouring secret thoughts that your ex is just going through a mid-life crisis, and as soon as he/she comes to his/her senses he/she will come running back to you, then mediation is not for you. You may be able to go through the motions, but at the moment when you have to make a decision, the primeval part of your brain will take over and shout “Don’t do this! As soon as you do this it will all be over.” If you are ambivalent about separation, then if possible take a bit more time to come to terms with what’s happening.

Case Study: Anthony and Cleopatra had 5 sessions of mediation, at the end of which we had several options, any of which were “approved” as fair by their respective solicitors. But Cleopatra couldn’t let go of the relationship and kept prevaricating. In the end we put mediation on ice for 6 months, at which point they returned and settled in one session.

2. They want to minimise solicitor costs and avoid court costs?

Well, duh. Everyone wants to minimise costs and avoid court…don’t they? Strangely enough the answer is no. Some people are so hurt/angry that they would sooner spend every penny that they have rather than share it with the ex that has broken their heart. Others that like to think that their situation is so difficult that only a judge can unravel it. Mediation is unlikely to help them, but for those who simply prefer to allow their solicitors to negotiate on their behalf, mediation can help save time and money.

Case Study: Heathcliff and Cathy used mediation to complete their financial disclosure and listen to initial proposals for settlement, They agreed several important issues and narrowed the gaps on others, but Cathy wanted her solicitor to conclude negotiations. They still saved hundreds of pounds by using mediation to complete their financial disclosure, agree their “Form E” information and listen to each other’s proposals.

3. They can put the needs of their children first

In the horror of separation it is easy to lose sight of the needs of the children. They become pawns in the worst game of chess ever. Research tells us that separation doesn’t hurt children, but conflict does. By resolving the conflict, you put the needs of your children first

Case Study: Porgy and Bess had sent their daughter to Hungary to be with grandparents because neither parent wanted the other parent to “have” her. They took the stance “If I can’t have her, neither can you.” As a result the child was away from home for 8 months. They sorted out a shared care arrangement in one session of mediation that meant that the child could return home

4. They are honest and open

It’s not uncommon for one party to deal with “the money side of things”, and for the other party to feel at a disadvantage. Mediation ensures that financial disclosure takes place fully and openly, and at a pace that promotes equal understanding and informed consent.

Case Study: Bonnie was nervous about using mediation because Clyde had always taken care of the finances. We took financial disclosure at Bonnie’s pace. Clyde was relieved that he had an opportunity to explain things in a non-confrontational way, and Bonnie appreciated having a greater understanding of their situation.

5. They are flexible/willing to listen

If you believe that there is only one solution, and that mediation would be a good way for the mediator to convince your ex of the rectitude of your position, then mediation is not for you

Case Study: Fred and Ginger each attended a separate MIAM. Ginger was happy to keep an open mind about options for settlement, but Fred was adamant that there was only one solution and that he wanted to go to court to get it. By attending the MIAM Fred and Ginger complied with the statutory requirement to consider mediation.

6. They want closure

Some people feed off conflict with their ex. They feel safe being angry; a conflicted relationship is better than no relationship. But for mediation to succeed, there has to be a degree of emotional neutrality. To put it simply, you need to be sick of the fight.

Case study: Elsa and Anna separated 3 years before they came to see me, referred by court. Theirs had been a story of constant bickering over trivia. They had settled the major things fairly easily, but continued to make spurious applications to court for minor changes to their ever more detailed contact order. In mediation we established that there was almost nothing in dispute, and talked about the fact that they had never got “closure”. I signposted them to couples counselling to talk about the end of the relationship, and how to “let it go”. They returned to mediation and agreed a parenting plan.

7. They have the stamina to stay with the process

Mediation is not for the faint-hearted, but if you can practise the above 6 habits in mediation, you will get there.

Case study: All the clients who have ever successfully concluded mediation

Mediation Works

Day 5 of Family Mediation Week features blog posts and a video on the theme “Mediation Works.”

The Family Mediator’s Association offers a whiteboard video called “Mediation Works.” It’s a short film explaining the process of family mediation and how it can help couples and families separate more smoothly.

In addition, there are two more blog posts. The first from Hugh England, Chair of the Family Mediation Council. Hugh’s post about the invaluable work done by family mediators and the positive effects this can have on separating couples is an important and powerful read, and can be read here.

Also writing on the subject is the widely respected academic, Jan Walker, Emeritus Professor of Family Policy and Strategic Research Adviser at Newcastle University’s Institute of Health and Society, whose research into mediation has revealed overwhelmingly positive results, time and time again. Jan’s blog can be read here.

Parenting Together

Day 4 of Family Mediation Week brings us blog posts and a video on the theme of “Parenting Together.”

Bill Hewlett, an inspirational mediator and all round good-egg from Australia, writes a piece about how the great-ness of family mediation in terms of the long-term benefits for children and parents. It is well worth a read here.

Caroline Dinenage MP also blogs about the tools and resources available to help separating couples, including mediation. Read her piece here.

Last but by no mean least, the Ministry of Justice in partnership with Kids in the Middle have released this video of children reading real quotes from ChildLine. It is definitely worth a watch.

Children’s Voices: New blog posts

Children in divorceIn support of Family Mediation week, today Duncan Fisher from Kids in the Middle blogs about their work and contextualises it in relation to the Voice of the Child report and the government response to it. Read his blog here.

Ruth Smallacombe, a family mediator, also writes about her experiences mediating in child cases, meeting children and young adults as part of that process and gives some helpful ideas about what parents can do. Read her blog here.