Separated Parents Mediation

If you are separating from your partner or going through the divorce stage your mind may be muddled, even if it was what you wanted. You are now expected to deal with many practical issues whilst feeling emotional confused and even vulnerable. You will be worried about the impact on your children, how will you tell them and what should they be told? Where will you live how will you share the care of your children? You will be worried and apprehensive about the future. You may feel alone or isolated. Will you be able to afford two households? Who gets what from the family home? And how on earth do you “share the children”? The last thing you want is uncertainty during this emotional and practically challenging time in your life. Do you go straight to a solicitor as everyone says or do you come to a mediator? Here is a brief overview of the best possible use of both since, in some cases, the two approaches can be of help to you and your family.

Early Intervention

Mediation is usually, in many cases, (not all) the best process to use when considering arrangements for your children. They are your children after all, it was your relationship and therefore you have an important role in managing the end of the ‘love’ relationship and move towards a more business-like, dare we say ‘friendly’ approach to the future as co-parents. You will work together as parents, with the mediator’s help: open discussions in neutral, safe environments are far more fruitful and less divisive than an exchange of solicitors’ correspondence or, entering the field of contested Court proceedings. In mediation, an accredited mediator can give your children a voice by talking to them in an informal relaxed way and relaying their wishes and feelings back to you. Note: (with the child’s permission as confidentiality extends to them, notwithstanding safeguarding policy). This can be invaluable in helping you do the best possible job for them and in acknowledging what they are feeling and may wish to happen in the short term at least. With young children and when there is limited parenting history together the mediator may help you generate options to build a parenting plan to get you both up and running in a new situation. Trying it out and coming back to discuss what worked and what isn’t going to work for your family. And we do remind you that separation is not just happening to two people, it’s happening to the children and the extended family. Grandparents can experience a devastating sense of loss if denied time with grandchildren. Your mediator will help you consider all feasible options for the family so that you may ensure the least disruption to your child’s routines and therefore less negative impact.

Best for Children

Children can be resilient but only when kept informed. Hiding problems or future plans, one parent disappearing from the family home, negative talk about the other parent all serve to cause anxiety for the children. It does not have to be this way. All parents want what is best for their children. We can help you express your concerns about future parenting plans and feed the wishes of the child into the mediation process so that you may, together, agree on a way forward that is best for your children and have this written down in a mediated agreement. We will help you find the right words for speaking with your child about the separation that are age appropriate.

We will help you find the right words for speaking with your child about the separation that are age appropriate.

We must acknowledge that for many people coming to FMNI, the time may not be right to begin mediation. This can be for many reasons too many to list here, but as an example, they may just be hurting too much or are feeling too angry and upset, it is too early after the split and clearly ‘end of relationship’ counselling is the best option for now. Here in NI, we have an extensive range of quality counselling service that you may access before you come back to us. We can then help to prepare you for what is a difficult process, mediation is not easy and we appreciate that this is a very hard thing for you to do. It depends on you working hard to generate options, it depends on both parents compromising to benefit their child, you may learn new ways of communicating, perhaps new negotiating skills that you may use into the future when you a ‘hit a bump in the road’. We are very conscious that your child’s needs will change as they grow and separated parents can be challenged, baffled and upset by some changes just the same as those parenting together! But working together we can minimise your anxiety and help you move on to be the parents your child wants you to be post separation.

Finance Mediation

Here at FMNI, we make a point of giving you the forms you need to complete as early as possible in the process so that you begin the tiresome process of information gathering and come back into the process with all your disclosure ready. You have much work to do and this can be difficult as the practical stuff is entwined with the heightened emotions experienced. However, we will encourage you both to establish the value of your home, the mortgage, any savings, pensions, debts: in short, we help you establish a clear picture of your finances for yourselves and for anyone advising you. This is an essential first step to sorting out any financial agreement and can actually help you cope as you are actually doing something tangible! Your mediator will have tested and assessed you both and your case for suitability for this service. Mediators are happy to discuss this process with you.

In your second or third joint sessions we can help you negotiate a settlement. We look at the equity in the house, division of savings, allocation of debt, and provision of retirement income through pensions. We also look at your income and outgoings and help you work out your budgets in your separate households, which enables us to help you set an appropriate level of maintenance and child support. We then write up all your figures in an open financial statement and your agreement in a Mediated Agreement. You are recommended to take both of these documents to your solicitors, who will take this forward through the legal process. This will be put before a judge so that it can be made legally binding if that is your wish.

If you require, your solicitor will then be able to finalise your divorce with a decree absolute. As you can see, mediation is a useful procedure both for children and for finance, and can be educative, empowering and even healing at this difficult time. However, solicitors play an important part in the process too, particularly if you are married and seeking a divorce. So, mediators and solicitors together help separating couples sort out the many varied problems inevitably arising and to reach an agreement. This way, families are empowered to move on and start to pick up the pieces of their lives as fast and cost-effectively as possible in the knowledge that the needs of their children were paramount.

Finance only mediation is not a funded service and you will be charged. Please contact the office for more information on the cost of this service.

Are you Mediation Ready?

We do acknowledge that for many people coming to FMNI, the time may not be right to begin mediation. This can be for many reasons too many to list here, but as an example, you may be hurting too much or are feeling too angry and upset, it is too early after the split and clearly ‘end of relationship’ counselling is the best option for now. Here in NI, we have an extensive range of quality counselling services that you may access before you come back to us. Please check the Family Support NI website for Counselling services and Parenting Programmes near you . We can then help to prepare you for what is a difficult process, mediation is not easy and we appreciate that this is a very hard thing for you to do and remember, you get out of it what you put into it. It can be very frustrating for one partner who may be ‘ready’ when the other partner is not. Please be patient as you are always welcome back to us to try again when the time is right for both, however, we never wish to be involved in creating any delay in a child seeing a parent, so for some at an early stage the court process may be the only option. Participating in mediation is a brave and challenging task but the rewards are enormous , particularly for your children and your own well-being.

It depends on you working hard to generate options, it depends on both parents compromising to benefit their child, you may learn new ways of communicating, perhaps new negotiating skills that you may use into the future when you ‘hit a bump in the road’. We are very conscious that your child’s needs will change as they grow and separated parents can be challenged, baffled and upset by some changes just the same as those parenting together! But working together we can minimise your anxiety and help you move on to be the parents your child wants you to be post separation.