Family mediation sessions for separating parents are a good way to discuss and resolve arrangements for the children. This could be working out a rota or timetable of when each parent will spend time with the children, how school holidays can be managed between the parents, as well as any financial disputes for maintenance payments. It is important to remember that children will be affected negatively if parents argue and cannot agree on these arrangements. Working with an experienced mediator in a safe and managed way that will avoid the conflict that can often arise between separating couples.
Here are some tips to help you to approach mediation and get the best results:
Preparation before you go to mediation
- Remember that you need to be thinking of the children’s best interests. Their thoughts and feelings on how arrangements could work may be entirely different to your own.
- Be prepared with an idea for the parenting plan for the children’s arrangements as you see it working. Will you be looking after the children most of the time or will it be your ex? Perhaps you might feel that shared care of the children could be the best option? We have some examples of typical parenting schedules that you can read here.
- Prepare a calendar that will include school holidays, work schedules and any other dates that will impact on the parenting plan and arrangements.
- On the financial side, prepare a clear picture of your finances, salary, loans, mortgage and a budget for your living expenses. Included in this can be any extra costs you might envisage for your part in looking after the children.
- To prepare yourself mentally for the process you will need to adopt a calm and positive attitude. Anger and heated emotions before mediation will not help you to reach a resolution. You must be prepared to compromise and consider the position of the other person. To angrily propose that your ex can only see the children once a month will inflame their emotions and above all, would not make the children happy either. They view their Mum or Dad from a child’s point of view, they are not angry with them.
Tips for during the mediation sessions
- Put the needs and feelings of your children before your own, they love their other parent and will want to see them. It is damaging to children to try to prevent them from seeing one of their parents.
- Go into the session with a positive attitude, ready to reach resolution, not angry and ready for conflict. However angry and hurt you may feel towards your ex-partner, you must use this proactive process to negotiate not argue.
- Be prepared to listen, you need to take on board the view point of the other person, so listen to their ideas just as you would wish them to listen to yours.
- Open and honest communication between separating parents at mediation will be far more likely to end in a resolution that both parties will be happy with. If there are issues or areas that you are concerned about then these points must be discussed.
- The mediation sessions are not the time to focus on the past issues of the relationship with your ex. Nor is it the time to focus on your ex, you must focus on the future and how you can manage the care of the children between you in a way that is fair and suits all parties, especially the children.
- Try to remember that mediation is not a ‘right or wrong’ situation, where one parent will lose or win against the other. It is about finding mutually agreeable solutions so that you can focus on your new future without dwelling on the past.
- Remember that the language you use and the way you say things in mediation can be detrimental to the process. Find tactful ways to express concerns, without using personal attacks or insults which will only result in defensive behaviour from the other person.
- Be aware that your mediator will not take sides or make decisions for the two of you. The mediator will only assist on the discussions and steer things back on course if things deteriorate.
If you are thinking that mediation may be a way forward for you or you have questions relating to mediation, please call us at Progressive on 0117 924 3880.