Posts Tagged: family mediation

Family Mediation Week 2018: Day 4

Day 4 of Family Mediation Week and there are many more excellent contributions.

The following from Anne Braithwaite, is particularly informative and helpful in explaining what mediators actually do that can help:

Amongst all the heartache and anger, there is fear!

Written by Anne Braithwaite, FMA

I have been a mediator for over 25 years. For all but the last 5 ½ of those years, I was also a divorce lawyer dealing with all the fall out when a marriage ends with a focus on money. I guess I’ve now spent going on for 35 years helping people from all walks of life sort out what to do when the world as they know it ends. I know that, amongst all the heartache and anger, there is fear about what the future will bring. Until finances are sorted out it’s impossible to live other than in limbo, a very insecure place to be.

So everybody who separates needs to resolve financial issues before they can rebuild their lives. Often having a safer place financially speaking helps focus on the emotional needs of children. It also means you can answer the questions which they have about where they will live and go to school.

Many people don’t have a clue where to start or, even if they do, feel the need of some professional help. A mediator gives that help. Mediators don’t just get couples in a room and then let them just try to sort things out. How would anyone know where to start? That’s the mediator’s job. Whilst being flexible to the needs of each couple, mediators are in charge of the actual process. Your mediator ensures that sessions have focus and that the whole process feels that it is going somewhere. Mediation has to feel safe and that it has a structure and purpose.

Separation is new to you. You need to understand what the rules are. Mediators help there by giving what we call “legal information”. That means explaining things such as what the relevant legal factors are in a neutral way. I know my clients find that knowing what a court would consider helps them talk about their own financial division and what feels like a fair outcome. Having that information enables people to start to talk with a sense of direction.

Mediators also help to explain what you might do about pensions for example, a subject of great importance where most people feel at least a little at sea. Mediators make suggestions about how to achieve agreed valuations and get mortgage advice. They help you pull all the threads together. This is all new to clients but many mediators have years of experience in the family law field. We are guides through the process who can pass on knowledge so that you realise that you actually can be in control of what happens. Crucially a mediator will help you work out the shape of your future.

This is all against the background of full financial disclosure. There has to be evidence about income and capital, not just taking each other’s words for things. Apart from the fact that nobody can start to talk about dividing everything up without establishing what is there in the first place, mediators realise that trust is usually in short supply. Clients only feel safe to negotiate when they are sure of the facts.

A mediator will also listen to what is important to you both and may help you take into consideration things that haven’t even occurred to you, or at least not to both of you, such as being able to live in areas which offer a chance of getting children into good schools and how to help your children through higher education and to afford the school trips that their friends will go on.

When you decide on what you want to do, the mediator sets that out in a memorandum of understanding. This isn’t legally binding yet as it is the last step in negotiations. It’s also a good idea to have legal advice before making your proposals legally binding. I always strongly suggest to my clients that they take that advice in between our mediation sessions and not wait until the mediation is concluded. The terms in the memorandum are made legally binding by having either a separation agreement or a consent order made in divorce proceedings.

Mediation is a professionally led means of negotiation, a negotiation where you are assisted by a neutral third party who will be able to give you legal information and practical pointers whilst ensuring an equality of bargaining power between the two of you. It is a process where the two of you determine the shape of your futures for yourselves. After all only the two of you know what will best suit you and your family. What mediation is not, is remotely fluffy.

Anne Braithwaite

Treasurer on the board of The Family Mediators Association

Family Mediation Week 2018: Day 1

We are supporting Family Mediation Week 2018.  The theme for Day 1 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.

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.

Family-Mediation-Week-2016

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

Volume of family mediation starts 46 per cent down on pre-LASPO levels

According to figures published by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the number of family mediations getting underway is still 46 per cent down on pre-LASPO levels.

The report, covering the third quarter of 2014 (July to September), reveals that the use of mediation has fallen since the implementation of LASPO in April 2013 with the volume of family mediation starts and assessments still down on pre-LASPO levels. However, figures reveal that in the last year there has been an increase, with a 20 per cent rise in the latest quarter compared to the same period in 2013.

Marc Lopatin, …read more

Source: Family Law News