Helen Cankett, an Accredited Family Mediator and Head of the Family team at BPE Solicitors, looks at the use of family mediation as an alternative to the court process for separating couples.
Recent statistics released by Cafcass (the Children and Family Court Advisory & Support Service) show that there has been a 6.1% increase in private law Court applications since May 2020. This means more separated families are asking for the Court’s help in determining the appropriate care arrangements for their children.
Sadly, the Court system is already overwhelmed with cases and this latest increase will do little to ease the situation. Most would agree that Court should always be the last resort but, for many families caught up in the conflict of separation, they feel it is their only option.
Family Mediation, however, offers an excellent alternative for separated parents to the often confrontational Court process. It enables them to discuss their views, concerns and ideas in a safe, supported and confidential environment. With the assistance of a Mediator, who remains impartial, the couple is helped to look to the future and arrive at an outcome which the couple themselves has chosen together, rather than one which has been imposed on them by a Court.
Once engaged with family mediation, the likelihood of reaching an agreement is high. A survey of registered mediators, carried out by the Family Mediation Council in 2020, found that almost three quarters of clients taking part in family mediation reached part or complete agreement by using the mediation process. The cases looked at by the survey covered a full range of matters including children arrangements, decisions on ownership of the family home and other property as well as finance including maintenance illustrating just how broad the scope of family mediation can be.
Maintaining constructive communication is usually one of the first challenges separating couples face and can inhibit their ability to reach an agreement. Mediation supports parents to improve their communication, agreeing how they will discuss important matters concerning their children in the future and the principles they will adhere to.
Many separating parents feel stuck in a battle for control when their relationship breaks down. Mediation can help to neutralise these feelings and ensures both parents feel heard and that their are views listened to and considered by their former partner. The process gives parents the best possible opportunity to arrive at an outcome they can live with and which they have actively participated in achieving. This is in sharp contrast to many parents’ experiences of Court proceedings.
Helen Cankett is an Accredited Family Mediator and able to assist separating parents in their discussions. Mediation always starts with individual assessment meetings with each of the parents to ensure the process is suitable for their particular situation.
Helen offers both remote and in-person mediations at our offices in Cheltenham. If you think mediation might be of help in your situation, please do not hesitate to contact Helen on 07885 881572 or email email@example.com
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