Family Mediation - a New Year's Resolution Because Your Family Matters

Article excerpt

THE pressure to have the "perfect Christmas" combined with many couples putting off difficult decisions until after the holiday, regularly leads to a January rise in the number of people looking for a divorce.

At the end of a relationship, people find it hard to take stock and decide how best to deal with the issues they face. Very often people feel stuck in a conflict which is both exhausting and damaging and from which they cannot escape. Family mediation is a possible solution.

Family Mediation is a way for separating couples to resolve their issues, including divorce, arrangements for their children and their finances, confidentially, amicably, cost-effectively and which avoids going to court.

Round the table - together In family mediation the separating couple meet around the table with an impartial mediator. The mediator's role is to create a calm and safe environment in which the couple can hear each other's views about the issues they face, enabling them to reach agreement.

Each family is different, and there is no 'one size fits all' solution to the practical, financial and legal consequences of relationship breakdown. Family mediation puts the separating couple in control of the outcome by giving them the opportunity to make arrangements which best suit their family's circumstances.

There is no need to involve a court in the decision making. Typically there may be between two and four sessions of about 90 minutes each. Meetings are arranged at a pace that suits the couple and all mediation meetings are confidential.

Family mediators are specially trained to help separating couples deal with conflict and work towards communicating better. Even where a couple's relationship is very strained, mediation can be effective in breaking down barriers and promoting better understanding.

This is especially valuable for separating parents who need to be able to talk for the benefit of their children.

Mediation is cost effective In cases where there are financial matters to resolve, family mediation provides a very cost-effective option.

As Mary Shaw, family partner and mediator at David Gray explains: "Full and frank financial disclosure is an essential part of the process. It can be achieved more effectively and quickly around the table, where people can clarify and explain, rather than by exchanging solicitors' letters and documents through the post - which can sometimes take weeks, if not months. …