Many mediations are concerned with the arrangements for the children. Separation and divorce is usually a painful experience for all involved, particularly children. Research has shown that children suffer less harm, and cope better with changes caused by family separation, if parents are able to avoid conflict over arrangements for their children, can agree a parenting plan, sort out their finances, the family home and other financial matters reasonably quickly.
The aim of mediation is to help you do this. When there are children involved in a relationship breakdown some form of ongoing parental relationship will need to be established. Mediation helps you to work together as co-parents when you have ceased being partners.
Mediation is designed for parents who want their children to have the greatest possible chance of retaining a solid relationship with both parents following their separation or divorce. Here at Breathing Space we develop a personalised mediation process that will allow your family to determine for itself whether to create a highly detailed co-parenting plan that covers all possible eventualities, or to simply work through one or two clearly identifiable issues. Either way, we recognise that few families wish to turn over control of how the children spend time with their parents to the courts and we will work with you to help provide you with the best arrangements possible for your children’s needs.
CHILD INCLUSIVE MEDIATION
If both of you think it might help, your child or children can to be invited to talk confidentially with a specially trained mediator in a child consultation meeting. We have the expertise to offer you this service. It is entirely up to your children if they wish to speak to a mediator, with your permission, the mediator will write to them personally to explain that. The Mediator and the child/children will agree upon what they would like to be fed back to you as parents. This gives the children ‘a voice’ in a situation where they may be feeling ‘invisible’, upset or confused – or where divided loyalties could become a problem. It can be hugely beneficial to children to talk with a Mediator and be able to express their wishes and feelings. They might also have some creative and inventive solutions as to how they can spend time with both of their parents.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END
If the discussions in mediation result in proposals acceptable to both sides, the mediator will write these up and the document can be shared with your Solicitor if you have one. In children matters the courts have a no order principle. Which means that in most cases they would prefer the parents to make the arrangements for children without the courts becoming involved. But in certain special circumstances the contents can with the consent of you both be turned into a court order.
There are some great books out there to help and ‘Parenting Apart – How Separated and divorced parents Can Raise Happy and Secure Kids’ by Christina McGhee. Published by Vermillion is highly recommended.