Like many mediators I come to mediation from another professional background. I spent the majority of my career working as a clinical psychologist both in the NHS and privately. In this work I became increasingly involved in working with couples, families and wider family systems. Overtime it became apparent to me that when family’s breakdown the negatives that drive them apart tend to prevent them from finding potentially positive solutions to their changed life circumstances. This led me to look more closely at conflict resolution and mediation as tools to try to achieve a better outcome that would protect and enhance the emotional wellbeing of the two individuals involved in the separation, the children and the wider family.

It is clear from psychological research and literature that separation and divorce have a negative impact on the wellbeing on the divorcing parties and also have an adverse impact upon their children and their wider families. However, it is also clear that with effective intervention, help and guidance through the process of separating and making decisions about finances and childcare that those negative impacts can be transient and manageable. This motivated me to focus upon mediation as I believe it is the best tool to negotiate the difficulties of separation and divorce and limit the adverse emotional impact this could have upon you, your partner, your children and your wider family.  Find out MORE BELOW


Learn more about mediation

• Family mediation is a way to resolve difficulties making decisions about finance and property and/or care arrangements for your children without the need to go to Court. Family mediation is a voluntary process, which means both parties have to agree to engage in the mediation and need to undertake an initial meeting with a mediator to see whether mediation would be suitable for them. In most cases mediation is suitable. However, issues such as domestic violence, implacable hostility or mental health distress of one or both parties could mean that mediation would not be the best option.

• In mediation the mediator takes an impartial position and attempts to guide the two people in dispute to a position where they can agree a course of action. This is very much a collaborative process and involves taking a positive future focused approach. This does not mean the conflict between you would be ignored or denied, but rather that the conflict would be accepted as the current reality with intention of finding a resolution to those difficulties that could allow the conflict to reduce.

• The mediation process is confidential and any information disclosed within the mediation sessions would not be able to be used in any other arena. However, there are two limits to a mediator’s confidentiality. Firstly, if the mediator became aware that there was safeguarding issues concerning children, this matter would need to be disclosed to the relevant authorities. Similarly, if the mediator became aware of financial in proprietary, such as money laundering, this would also need to be disclosed to the relevant authorities.  

• Anyone can approach a mediator to begin a mediation process. In the Family Courts it is a requirement that a person who wishes to make an application for a divorce engages in a mediation information and assessment meeting (MIAM). However, this meeting is not necessary if there are serious difficulties, such as domestic abuse. In the initial meeting the mediator will go through the issues you wish to bring to mediation and talk through how those issues may be addressed with reference to the Family Law and the potential decisions that could be made by a Court. This gives a reference for any decisions that are made within mediation and ensures that any decisions made in mediation would be accepted by the Family Court.

• Having attended a MIAM, your ex-partner will be invited to attend a MIAM and, should they attend and mediation be considered to be viable, you will both then be invited to an initial mediation meeting.

• The mediation process tends to take between two and five sessions and these sessions are between sixty and ninety minutes in length. During these sessions you and your ex- partner will explore the issues you have both raised. 

• Family mediation generally covers two broad areas: Parenting Issues and Financial & Property Issues

Parenting Issues:

o Discussing how children are going to be cared for and how much time they will spend with each parent.

o Ensuring that wider family members including grandparents maintain contact with the children.

o Making decisions about appropriate child maintenance and spousal support payments.

o Making arrangements for the children to have contact with each of you during school holidays and key events such as Christmas, birthdays etc.

o There may also be other issues of significant concern to one or both of you including where the children will go to school, potential relocation of one or both parents and the introduction of the children to new partners. 

Financial & Property Issues:

o Working to reach an agreement regarding the decision of any assets hold.

o Making decisions about the family home, including whether one person will attend the family home, whether it will be sold and in the interim who will move out of the family home and when will this happen.

o Discussing any spousal support payments being made.

o Working towards an equitable distribution of any pensions or investments.

o Making decisions about interim issues such as the payment of any upcoming bills.

• Family mediation is a process designed to help people going through the difficult emotional process of separating. The main aim is to ensure continued communication between you and a partner from whom you are separating to enable you to make decisions about disentangling the emotional and financial commitments that developed during your partnership. This will generally mean trying to make sense of how you can equitably divide up your assets and liabilities to ensure that both of you can move forward into the future and, if you have children, work out how best they will be cared for within the new lives you are both beginning to develop.

• Mediation provides an opportunity for you and your ex-partner to work together to achieve an end result that you are both committed to putting into action. The mediation process, by being collaborative and stressing the need to work together, is generally quicker, less stressful and cheaper than going to the adversarial system of the Family Court. The mediation process allows you to shape long term solutions that fit with your family’s needs rather than allow the Court to impose decisions upon you that may not meet your needs.

• Family mediation can also continue to be useful during the years following separation and divorce. It is likely that many of the decisions you make when you separate need to change over time to accommodate changing circumstances and family mediation can help you to work to alter arrangements to meet your new circumstances. 

• At APS we are aware of and understand the significant emotional impact of separation and divorce. Indeed divorce ranks as one of the biggest life events people can experience and impacts on every aspect of our day to day functioning. Consequently, trying to make changes to your life circumstances whilst experiencing high levels of emotional distress makes divorce and separation a complex and distressing process. However, at APS we believe that by helping people to understand and process their emotional reaction to this very significant change in their life circumstances can help them to reach a position where they are able to focus upon making practical changes that will help them to accept and come to terms with the changes to their physical and emotional world. In doing this, we will work with both you and your partner to understand where you are in your own process of change and adjustment and enable you and your partner to have a greater understanding of the position of the other in this process. We believe that by enabling a clearer understanding of the impact of the change process on each of you that we can help you to reach a more positive position in resolving your difficulties and hopefully allow you to feel a greater understanding and empathy for each other even at this difficult time.

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