In a new series of blogs we’re turning our focus to family mediation. This is something we are experts in so it makes sense to share our knowledge. We have seen a growing understanding and knowledge of family mediation amongst separating couples in recent years but there can still be some misunderstandings about what happens so this new series of blogs seeks to explain and correct any misconceptions.As always we’ll be doing a Facebook Live on the Friday after the blog goes live to talk about the post in more detail. If you like our Facebook page then you’ll always get notifications about when we’re going live (or are live) and what we’ll be talking about. If you share it we can reach other people who might need to access our support too. You can join Louisa Whitney to ask your questions live, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to ask questions anonymously in the live. Just put Facebook Live in the subject heading.
So to family mediation….this is a process that brings together a couple who have separated, or who are in the process of separating, to talk about any issue that they feel needs to be resolved. The focus is on what happens next after a separation, or what happens next even if the separation was a little while ago. The issues might relate to money, to their children or to other issues such as possessions or family pets. It’s a very flexible process that can be tailored to the couple in question together with the issues that need to be resolved.
A family mediator is impartial. This means they don’t make judgements about who is right or wrong. They help you to find a solution. They do this in various ways. Firstly, they are very knowledgeable about divorce and separation so they may be able to think of options that you had not thought about. Sometimes separating couples get caught up in an either/or scenario where they only see person A’s best option and person B’s best option and endlessly debate those two options without moving forward. Widening the focus, or looking at hybrid options can be really helpful in breaking a deadlock.
The role of the family mediator is also to provide information to help you each make informed choices about the right way forward. The information they give is crucially not legal advice so it’s not designed to focus on one person’s interests over another’s. It is just information about processes, about things to consider or sometimes it can be helpful to understand how a judge might evaluate the situation if the couple were in court.
The exchange of financial information is an important part of sorting out financial issues and a family mediator can talk you through doing this. There can be flexibility in mediation in how this information is provided so that the couple can tailor the process to make it work best for them. A mediator will stress the importance of each party having sufficient information to enable them to make informed decisions and can ask questions from a place of knowledge to check you have all the information you need.
Mediators also have lots of different tools that they gather together through their work and from other work they have done. For example, Louisa Whitney who set up LKW Family Mediation, draws on the 12 years she spent working as a lawyer with separating couples in her mediation work. She also uses other knowledge she’s acquired since qualifying as a family mediator. Sometimes it can be practical suggestions that help such as having a book to record key information about children for parents who are finding communicating about their children difficult. Language can also play an important part in disputes. For example, one parent may feel upset that they feel they are always having to ask permission to see their children. The other parent may not view things in this way and may not have understood that this is how the other parent feels. By changing the language both parties use you can remove something that was causing angst and difficulties in communication.
Family mediators can also break things down into steps to make things seem more manageable. This can make things seem less overwhelming and can remove some fears and confusions that the couple involved had about trying to move forward. Ultimately family mediators are about finding solutions to complex problems at an emotional time in a supportive, compassionate and constructive environment.
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If you’d like to view the Facebook Live talking about this blog in more detail then please click on the video below. To get notified when we’re going live like our Facebook page.