Today marks the start of Family Mediation Week which runs until January 22, with the aim of raising awareness of the benefits of mediation for separating couples.
Sheila Parkes, who heads Haymarket Family Mediation, which is part of Phillips Solicitors, is delighted to support the week, organised by the Family Mediation Council.
In this article, Sheila, who has been a family lawyer for over 30 years, a mediator for more than 20 years and a mother of three shares her thoughts about family mediation:
Remember that this is not the beginning of the end but just the start of a new beginning.
As parents, we know that you will both want to be there for your children’s many future life events – school plays, sports days, graduations, engagements, weddings, christenings. And as well as your own children, you may find there are other special events which will also bring you briefly back together – perhaps for a godchild or a parent. Bitter acrimony at separation never makes that an easy task.
Over time your children will grow to understand that their parents are happier living apart. But for their special days in life, they will still look to both parents to be joyfully celebrating rather than bitterly feuding. This is why it is so important during the separation process to think about your relationship going forward, and how you can maintain this in a cordial and stable way. Your children look up to you as role models and will expect you to behave as adults, whatever the cause of the marriage or relationship breakdown.
Mediation at separation or indeed at a later stage if issues arise, will help you resolve issues about children and finance in a neutral environment. It is generally cheaper and quicker than alternative dispute resolution methods and the biggest advantage is that you can maintain your dignity as it is the two of YOU who are making decisions about your future, rather than a judge.
At Haymarket Family Mediation, we are here to support you. We can help you focus on life beyond the end of the relationship. Maintaining good communication with your former partner will enable you to move on in your life. A civilised separation will provide a firm foundation for this.
It is natural during a relationship breakdown to focus on the here and now – the division of assets, time with your children, who gets what. But do make sure that you also focus on the long-term and how you will navigate future social interactions so that both you and your children can enjoy important life moments to the full.
During Family Mediation Week, we want to highlight the benefits of mediation for clients. Don’t discount it. It is less confrontational than other options and can genuinely help you prepare for the future apart from each other.
Increasingly over the years, I have seen how much more beneficial it is for separating clients to reach agreement in mediation, rather than go through adversarial litigation which often ends up with an outcome that neither party wanted.
To see couples genuinely communicating at the end of the mediation process is what makes it rewarding for me as a mediator as it all bodes well for their new lives apart.
Our mediators at Haymarket Family Mediation are highly experienced, and trained in core communication and mediation skills, impasse, negotiation, and the law.
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Our mediators and staff are able to work remotely so Phillips Solicitors and Haymarket Family Mediation remain fully open for business. Mediation and appointments can take place by Zoom or other virtual platforms so you can be assured that we are able to meet your needs and we can discuss any questions you may have about this in advance and by telephone. During these difficult times, our Town Gate office in Basingstoke is temporarily closed to visitors unless by prior appointment and when meeting in person is essential.
This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.