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.
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
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.
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
In 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.
Rachel’s Poem Video: Divorce from the perspective of an 11-year old girl
Day 3 of Family Mediation Week focuses on “Childrens Voices.”
Today this wonderful video clip has been released. It shows child actors reading the words of “Rachel’s Poem.” The poem was written by an 11-year old girl about her parents divorce and powerfully demonstrates the needs of children to be allowed to love and spend time with both parents after separation/divorce. It has been filmed in collaboration with Kids in the Middle.
Family mediation client talks about her experiences of mediation
Continuing on the theme of Financial Sense, the Family Mediators Association have today published a short video and blog post of a client talking about her experience of going through mediation on financial and children matters.
The video is short but effective at one minute and twenty seconds. Suzy’s talks a little about the mediation process in general terms, about her case and about the impact mediation had on her and her family. And, although not all cases will include all the elements that Suzy describes i.e. capital assets, maintenance and children, the real value of this video is to hear what benefits Suzy derived from the process. You can also read the blog here.
Myths about resolving financial disputes in mediation
Today’s focus for Family Mediation Week is Financial Sense. As part of this, David Allison from Family Law in Partnership has written a helpful article which dispels some of the common myths around using mediation to resolve financial disputes. Read it here.
It’s time to choose a better way: Able Mediation supports Family Mediation Week 2016
Every year, thousands of families are torn apart by bitter court battles. Relationships between separating parents are irretrievably broken, and all too often their children are caught up in the middle.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There is another way, a way that has helped many divorcing parents build a constructive future for their family, without a court imposing decisions on them.
About Family Mediation
Family mediation puts you in control, with the help and support of highly trained professionals who can help you make decisions about your future.
Research shows that mediation is often the best way for families to resolve conflicts. It is proven to be faster, less costly and crucially less adversarial than divorcing through the courts. Unfortunately, too few people know about it, and end up locked in angry disputes that have far-reaching consequences for them, and for their children.
Family Mediation Week (11-15 January 2016)
11-15 January 2016 is Family Mediation Week. Organised by the Family Mediators Association (FMA), our aim is to raise awareness of mediation as an alternative to court battles for separating couples.
Mediation can help you take control of your own family’s future, making constructive decisions together rather than asking someone else to decide what should happen to your children or your finances. We want to help and support people at the point of separation, and also let other people know that family mediation is an option they can suggest to friends or family members who are experiencing separation and don’t know where to go for help.
Over the course of Family Mediation Week, we will be publishing information and resources to help more people understand that there is a better, more constructive option that puts children first and helps separating families create a brighter future.
Find out more:
To receive more information about family mediation, how it works and how it can benefit separating families, contact us directly by phone or email, like our Facebook page, follow Juliet on Twitter or visit our member organisation website at www.thefma.co.uk or www.familymediationweek.org.uk
Guest of the Month at Ashley Wilson Solicitors
Thank you to Mira Gohil at Ashley Wilson Solicitors for inviting me to be Guest of the Month. I hope the information I have provided for their blog on Mediation Information and Assessment Meetings (MIAMs) will be helpful to clients. To read more, see the article here:
Support for making full financial disclosure
Most clients find the process of making full financial disclosure time consuming. Many also find it difficult as they may not have access to documents or they may not be used to dealing with finances. However, it is a pre-requisite to being able to enter into meaningful discussion about a settlement and being able to reality test options.
Advice Now have produced this really useful and straight forward video to help people fill in Form E, the court form used for making full financial disclosure. However, it may also be useful for mediation clients who may be struggling to fill in their disclosure forms, whether this is the Form E or a mediation adapted version.
Although, as mediators, we are always happy to support our clients in this process, the more you can do yourself in preparation for a session the better, as it will move the process on more quickly, saving you both time and money.