This week is national family mediation week

This week is national family mediation week

Posted by on Jan 19, 2022 in News

Here are some reasons why you may wish to consider using family mediation to work out your future arrangements:

  • Family mediation is a way for families to manage changes that arise when they decide that it is time to separate and when relationships change.  These changes can have a significant impact particularly where there are children – in practical and emotional/psychological ways.  If parents are willing to use mediation to try and resolve matters, any children involved will always be a central priority when any decisions are made.
  • If children know that their parents are working out arrangements for them together, this can be of great reassurance to them at a time when their world seems to be turned upside down. 
  • Mediation has often been referred to as an ‘alternative dispute resolution’ process to show that it is an alternative option to the Court process.  Making a contested Court application is usually a stressful, costly and slow process for resolving family issues and should be a last resort (unless there is an urgent situation which requires a judge to make a decision). 
  • During the pandemic, mediation has been very popular as the Courts have become overburdened with cases and have an increasing backlog causing distress and frustration to all involved.  Where appropriate, judges are encouraging lawyers to refer cases to mediation to see if it is necessary to use the Court process. Mediation does not need to be considered any longer just an ‘alternative’  way to work out family matters on separation.  It is available as a mainstream option for working out family arrangements (including finances and for children) upon separation. It usually results in families resolving matters together rather than needing to become embroiled in stressful and lengthy Court battles where they lose control of the outcome as the decision will have to be taken by a judge or magistrates.
  • Mediation provides a safe space to try and resolve issues which arise when a big change is happening to you/your family.  In mediation, you will not be judged on who has been right or wrong in the past as the focus will be on how to best work together in the future.  You will still be a family, even though you may not all be living together all the time in the future.
  • Mediation helps you stay in control of what happens in the future for your family as you will be making decisions together after considering a range of options and sharing all the information you need to make those decisions – no one will make you do anything against your wishes.
  • When relationships breakdown this is often an earth-shattering experience for the whole family even if it is expected.  Mediation can provide you with all the support you need from the mediator and also from a range of professionals who are highly trained to work within and alongside mediation (financial advisers and family consultants for example).  You can find more information about these various roles at sussexfamilysolutions.co.uk
  • Change is challenging at any time and brings to mind a range of feelings.  Mediation can help you manage changes at your pace, ensuring you feel supported at all times and have all the information you need to make fully informed decisions based on the reality of your individual family situation.  If you feel ‘stuck’ and unable to make decisions, mediation can help you work through difficult issues together to find a solution that feels fair to the whole family.
  • Mediation is a flexible process and can take place in a variety of ways.  It is possible or some or all of the meeting to be with you in separate rooms if that feels more comfortable (shuttle mediation).  It is possible for your lawyers to be involved in the mediation meetings (hybrid  mediation).
  • If you are not able to finalise all your decisions in mediation, the time is not wasted as you will have gathered a lot of information about your finances and generally which can then be shared within whichever other process you decide to use to complete matters and you will not be ‘back to square one’.  You can take a break from mediation to review matters with your solicitors or financial advisers for example and then decide to return to mediation at a future date. 
  • Mediation provides a neutral setting where an impartial mediator will support you both on an even-handed basis to work through the issues which concern each of you, focussing on any children you have as a central priority.  At a time when you may feel overwhelmed with stress, worry and confusion – having such a space can be invaluable.

You can find out more about what is going on on this Family Mediation week at familymediationcouncil.org.uk/fmw/.

Sarah-Jane Riddell

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