What does the title of this blog actually mean? Anyone, who has been through the mediation process can answer this question only with the absolute benefit of experience. However, for those of you who are considering mediation or waiting to come into the process it would be quite acceptable to find it difficult to know whether you are ready or not. Coming into mediation for the first time can undoubtedly be a daunting prospect for many people. The mediation process can be a very emotionally challenging one and can be genuinely affected by each individual’s current state of mind or the stage in the separation process both individuals are at.

When couples separate there is an immense turmoil in their lives and in their children’s lives. Having to deal with the practical issues such as who stays in the home and how the children can be supported to move between two homes, are difficult decisions to make at a time when people may be feeling a huge range of emotions. Maybe there’s a change of schools involved, the sale of a home or the challenge of two homes required at a time of great pressure in the rental market. The children may be distressed and not want to see a parent and there are many other issues that need to be addressed early in the separation process.  The whole family may be feeling unsettled and uncertain about the changes.

When some families separate, as mediators in the room (be that face to face or virtual) we are aware that some parents can put their relationship differences to one side and as a result may be ready to mediate. We often discuss with parents in mediation about being able to draw a line in the sand and move forward from the issues of the past to focus on the future and in particular, on the children’s needs. However, as mediators we have also noticed that some people are not yet at this point in their separation and struggle to concentrate on what issues need to be considered to support the children with their new routines. Reasons for this include, one person didn’t want the breakup to happen, some are still too angry about the past, wanting to apportion blame on their ex, mental health issues, addiction issues and financial issues to name but a few.

I doubt many people ever feel truly ready for mediation, but I believe that what draws most people into the process (in my humble opinion) is the desire to reach their own solutions to their own problems by using the support of a neutral third party i.e the mediator.  And, for many, once they engage the feeling of empowerment drives them forward to find agreement.

Below are 5 things to consider in preparation for being ready to come into mediation.

  • Do you feel able to focus on the children’s needs and put their needs first?
  • Do you feel able to make compromises where needed to resolve any difference of opinion with your ex over the children’s needs?
  • Do you feel able to communicate with your ex to work out solutions that will best meet the needs of the children?
  • Do you understand the mediation process and do you feel confident to ask for clarification on any aspect of the process that you may be unsure about?
  • Do you feel emotionally ready to talk about the future and to sort out any pressing practical issues such as school pick-ups and drop -offs or which nights the children will spend with both parents?

Taking some time to think about how you would answer the above questions may assist you to know if you are ready to enter the mediation process. If you do not feel ready perhaps consider individual end of relationship counselling with a counselling service, check out this useful website for other services that may help you at this time. (https://www.familysupportni.gov.uk)

You may return to FMNI when you are ‘mediation ready’.

Finally, another way to get ready for mediation is to do your own reading before coming into mediation. Whether you prefer books or online resources, finding out more about the effects of your separation on your children will help you prepare to support them through the difficult times ahead. At FMNI we can signpost you to many resources that you may find useful when getting prepared and ready to mediate.