All posts by Frances Place

End of an Era – The Big Move to Totnes

We set up Progressive Mediation in 2010, with a clear vision of providing affordable family mediation in Bristol. Now, after nearly 20 years, we have taken the decision to move down to Totnes to continue to provide our mediation services in South Devon.

We feel we have achieved so much during our time in Bristol, we have helped so many families and individuals to resolve their issues during their separation or divorce. In fact, we have spent hundreds of hours mediating in complex family disputes including direct consultation with children.

Family Mediation

Family mediation is at the heart of what we do and includes mediating for separating couples whether they are married or not. Usually the arrangements for the children are at the centre of the disputes for these couples and there is nothing more rewarding for us than to help them to resolve their differences and arrive at a compromise which is fair to all.

We are advocates of child inclusive mediation where appropriate and this has been a highly successful way to mediate, particularly with high conflict couples. We have mediated for couples over long distance too which has its challenges but thanks to technology we have made it possible.

Along our journey we have enabled all individuals to gain access to our services by offering the opportunity for people to apply for Legal Aid for Mediation which has proved invaluable for low income families. Making our services affordable to everyone is the ethos that motivates our business.

Parenting Coordination

This is a relatively new service that we started to provide in June 2018 and has proved to be a popular option as an extension after mediation has finished.  It enables separated couples who really struggle with the ongoing communication for arrangements for their children to reach agreement through the coordinator.

You can read our Devon Parenting Coordination Case Study as an example of how this service has worked so well for a high conflict couple in Devon.

Workplace Disputes

Disputes within the workplace are common and can be hugely stressful to the individuals involved; so much of modern life is spent in the workplace. We have helped resolve some complicated and highly emotional civil mediation cases using sole mediation, co-mediation (particularly useful for complex multi-party disputes) and shuttle/caucusing mediation models.

As with all mediation, the successful outcome arrives when all parties feel they have been heard and have a better understanding of the position of the other parties. During our time in Bristol we have mediated many workplace disputes with the same passion and success as our family mediation cases.

Inheritance Act, Property and Business Disputes

Commercial disputes can arise and be associated with property or business agreements, partnership disputes and a host of other issues. The fundamental principles of mediation remain the same; the involved parties are all encouraged to listen to each other’s points of view and a compromise is reached through mediated discussions. Often, there are new ways or suggestions from us that have not been thought of.

Fond Farewells and Thanks

As we close this chapter of our mediation journey in Bristol, we would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in Bristol who has helped us and all our clients.

Totnes Here We Come!

As our Bristol office closes, we are transferring all our energy and enthusiasm for what we do to our new Totnes premises. Our new contact details are:

Mobile: 0788 903 9393

Address: 17 Smithfields, Totnes TQ9 5LR.

We cover the whole of the South Hams and South Devon area. This includes Totnes, Paignton, Torquay, Newton Abbot, Buckfastleigh,  Ashburton, Plymouth, Kingsbridge and Modbury.

We are welcoming new clients here in Totnes already, so please get in touch if you need advice on any aspect of our mediation services.

Best Wishes

Frances and Charles Place

Reform of the Divorce Process – No-Fault Divorce

The UK Government plans to reform the current divorce process to make several changes including removing the necessity for either or both parties to claim a ‘fault’ with the other if they wish to divorce. Last month, in April 2019, the Government confirmed they would go ahead with the planned changes and introduce new legislation, as soon as parliamentary time becomes available.

Current Divorce Process

At the time of writing this, the process for divorce is lengthy, complicated and you will need to provide information to support or prove the following faults:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Unreasonable behaviour

If the spouses can wait longer or don’t want to blame one another there are these two options:

  • Separation of more than two years (if spouse agrees to the divorce)
  • Separation of at least five years (if spouse disagrees with the divorce)

It is easy to see why so many legal professionals see this process as outdated and how it causes more aggravation between separating couples who should be focusing on issues and arrangements for children, property and their finances.

A simplified overview of the current process is as follows:

  1. Petition – One party sends their petition to court. Court then issues the papers to the other party.
  2. Response – The other spouse receives the papers; they must then respond within 7 days by filling in a form called an ‘Acknowledgement of service’. (if it is not returned there is a lengthy process to move this stage forward.)
  3. Decree Nisi – Once the ‘Acknowledgement of service’ has been returned to the court, the petitioner can apply for the Decree Nisi. The district judge will consider the petition and papers to decide if the petitioner is entitled to divorce. If the Judge is satisfied all is in order, a Certificate will be issued confirming the time, date and place when Decree Nisi will be pronounced.
  4. Order From Court – After the Decree Nisi has been pronounced the Order from the Court will be received. The Decree Nisi confirms that the petitioner is entitled to a divorce, but the divorce is not yet finalised.
  5. Decree Absolute – Six weeks and one day from the date Decree Nisi is pronounced the petitioner can then apply for the Decree Nisi to be made Absolute which will finalise the divorce.

Although this may seem simple enough, the process can take months, particularly if one party is not cooperative. At each stage, the process can be held up by objections, financial issues and the respondent not complying within the specified time frame.

What Changes to the Divorce Process are Planned?

No-Fault and No Allocation of Blame

In the first instance, the ‘blame game’ that couples are forced to play currently, will no longer be a necessity. A couple or one party would only need to notify the court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.

There will not be the need for accusations, finger pointing, and blame apportioned to either party. It is the allocation of blame that causes the stressful courtroom battles that are so consuming and unpleasant for all involved.

Let’s not forget how witnessing their parents fighting is one of the most damaging things to children. For separating parents, it is so much more difficult to focus on the needs of their children when they must prove a fault-based fact against their former partner.

Faster Process

The reforms will also mean that couples will not now have to wait two years (of living separately) to start the divorce process if they had not wanted to apportion blame. Under the current process couples who want to divorce quickly would have to prove adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour which aside from causing emotional issues, could then be contested by the respondent.

If a couple do not both consent to the divorce and there is no evidence of fault, the applicants would have to wait until they have been living apart for five years, before the divorce proceedings could begin.

Mutual Agreement

The new divorce process will also negate the necessity for mutual agreement of both parties on the divorce or any aspect of it. The ability for one person to contest a divorce will be removed.

Allow Couples to Give Notice Jointly

This change will mean that a couple who mutually agree they want to divorce, can start the process together rather than one party having to ‘petition’ and the other ‘respond’. This will save time and a lot of administrative issues if they apply jointly.

These joint applications will also be allowed to become sole applications if the situation were to arise. Equality sole applications would be allowed to become joint applications.

Putting the Children First

These are just some of the proposed changes and we wholeheartedly agree that they will benefit everyone involved in divorce. As much as we would all hope that every marriage will stand the test of time, it is sometimes better for people to be apart. As experienced family mediators, we have seen the stress and sadness that can be placed on young shoulders as they become drawn into adult relationship breakdowns.

Long Distance Mediation via Skype for Separating Couples

Ideally, mediation sessions for separating couples work best if both parties can be present in the same room with their mediator. However, this is not always possible with people living greater distances apart with heavy work commitments or perhaps child care issues. Some couples may even live in different countries after they separate. Also, if the split has been particularly traumatic, one party may not feel comfortable being in the room with their ex-partner.

Thankfully, with modern technology there are ways to overcome the difficulties of conducting mediation sessions at long distance.

Skype Mediation

Mediation via Skype is a popular choice, as you can join the meeting using a laptop, tablet or even just your smart phone. You would still need to prepare fully before the meeting and ensure that there would be no distractions during the session.

Making Skype Mediation Work

The great thing about Skype is that you will be able to see everybody on the call, this is preferable to just a conference call where meaning can be lost without seeing someone’s expressions.

However, here are some points worth bearing in mind to make the session as successful as possible:

  1. Be aware that arranging a time for the mediation may be a challenge, especially if both parties work. You may also be dealing with different time zones which will further complicate things.
  2. Make sure that you have completely uninterrupted time for the session. Just because you can take the mediation session from your sofa doesn’t mean your children should be around to walk in, listen in or distract you. If the mediation is about arrangements for them, it is especially unwise for them to be privy to any sessions.
  3. Be mindful of the time delay that might occur. Everyone will need to be briefed to speak slowly and clearly.
  4. There may be breaks in the connection which will mean some of what you say may need to be repeated. If one person’s internet connection is very slow there may be multiple interruptions, loss of sound or visual which may be frustrating. Your mediator will check all these aspects in a pre-briefing and will trial a Skype call to check connectivity.

Using Skype Mediation for High Conflict Couples

As mentioned above, it may not be a geographical obstacle that makes online skype mediation the preferable option. Sometimes there is so much emotion and ill feeling between separating couples that they would really prefer not to be in the same room.

Someone may feel very threatened by their ex-partner and whether this is well founded or not, the communication via video screen takes much of the stress and emotion out of the situation. The case study below highlights this situation.

Devon Skype Mediation Case study

Geographically Totnes and Plymouth are not worlds apart, but they might as well be for a divorcing couple going through a very stressful and high conflict marriage break up. Amy (as we will call her), was so distraught by her situation that she moved herself and her four children down to Totnes to be near to her parents and put some distance between herself and her soon to be ex-husband.

Whilst this alleviated tensions in the home environment for the children, it became clear very soon that Amy and Richard (as we will call him) needed help to reach resolution on every aspect of their split. The most pressing was that Richard was wanting to see his children on a regular basis, but communication had broken down so much that no arrangement could be made. Amy realised that the children were becoming distressed by the situation. But she couldn’t bring herself to even be in the same space as Richard.

Skype mediation was the perfect solution for these parents. The fact that they were not in the same room took all the trauma from the situation for Amy who was highly emotional. With careful guidance from the mediator, the couple were able to discuss a set of agreements which related to the children’s arrangements as well as the financial disputes that they were having. The result was arrangements that were agreed by both Amy and Richard as they had set aside their feelings for each other to focus on what was best for the children.

Can we Help?

Here at Progressive Mediation, we are very experienced in all aspects of family mediation and have resolved many disputes between divorcing couples, including international mediation cases. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you then please call us on 0788 903 9393.

Arrangements for Children after Separation – The Importance of Compromise

When parents decide to separate, one of the biggest decisions that they must make is how to arrange the schedule for their children. Who will be the main carer? How often will the other parent see the children? In theory, there are many options open to explore and discuss, but often emotions are running high during these initial discussions and it is easy for both parents to lose sight of what is the most important – the children’s best interests.

Your Child’s Best Interests

Your own ideas of what is best for your child may well be influenced by your own emotions, particularly if the separation has been traumatic and you have a high conflict relationship with your ex. Remember that consulting your children on their arrangements is important but can only be done if they are old enough to understand. Asking a toddler how often they would like to see Daddy is too big a question and will only cause upset. Here are some pointers to consider:

Adjustment to the separation – to make this as smooth as possible the child needs ‘order’ in the upheaval, a predictable routine that they can rely on and get used to.

Avoid conflict – openly arguing with your ex in front of the children will cause distress. Also, bad mouthing your ex to your children will force an unhappy loyalty conflict by making them choose a parent to side with.

How to Work Out the Arrangements

It is important to remember that most children will benefit from being in regular contact with both their parents and receive input, love and care from both. This is where the difficulties of making arrangements can start. For example, if one parent feels they want to punish the other parent by refusing access to the children or making contact difficult, it is the children that will suffer the most. Your own feelings for your ex-partner must be set aside for the sake of your kids. In their eyes they love both their parents and will be traumatised enough by the split, without the extra stress of dealing with parental conflict too.

The pattern that you choose for your own situation must be a decision that is agreed by both parents, often meaning a compromise must be reached. These decisions can only be reached if both parents are willing to listen to the other point of view and discuss the situation fully and fairly with empathy.

For example, a common occurrence can be that the Dad will say he wants 50/50 shared responsibility for the children and have them stay with him for 50% of the time. This sounds fair in theory, but it may be far from practical to arrange around his work. Also, from the mother’s point of view, she may have been the main carer to the children since they were born, why should she suddenly relinquish this now and only see her children half the time? So, you can see how both parents in this situation will not agree and will also feel the other is being completely unreasonable.

Shared Care or Shared Parenting

Shared care of the children can work for some families if work commitments allow and both parents are committed to the arrangement. It can mean less complications in terms of finances too, as technically no maintenance need change hands if both parents hold equal responsibility for home, food and utilities.

However, the best interests of the children must also be considered, changing between homes a few times a week can be very disruptive for them emotionally particularly if they are young. Alternatively, it could be too long between seeing either parent if an alternative week schedule was decided upon.

There is also the practical side of things where they may need to transport personal belongings between the houses. Imagine the distress if the favourite teddy got left at Dad’s one day and the toddler can’t sleep without it. This is not to say that it can’t work, in fact, we have seen many couples who have made it work very successfully and their children are balanced, happy and enjoy time with both parents. It is just important to consider the aspects of 50/50 shared care that can make it more challenging.

We have written a very comprehensive blog which gives many examples of shared parenting schedules and how to make the arrangements that will make shared parenting work in different situations. You may also find it useful to read the highs and lows or shared parenting.

Other Parenting Schedules

Alternating weekends

A very common pattern that is set up between separated parents is where the mother will remain the main carer, but the children will have regular visits to their Dad. This is often worked out that the father has the children every other weekend for a long two day/two-night visit. Sometimes an issue with this arrangement is that the father wouldn’t see the children very often, so you can add a mid-week overnight stay every week on a Wednesday to increase the time.

60/40 Schedule

Another example of how it can be worked out is the 60/40 schedule. This works well if both parents want plenty of time with the kids, but the 50/50 schedule has too many change over times. The parents will need to live close to each other for it to work and the children will need to be comfortable and happy living in two houses for nearly equal amounts of time.

70/30 Schedule

Again, this is another option that can work very well, as with any other schedule it needs to be organised, so the children know the pattern and get used to it. You can work this out so that every week one parent does 5 days and the other does 2 days. Or you can schedule every third week, the children go to their Dad. This can work well for older children or teens as they will be happier to spend a week away from a parent, than a toddler.

The Importance of Compromise

Whatever your individual situation, reasons for your separation, age of your children or your location you can see that there are many ways in which you can arrange to split the time with your children. However, these schedules only work if both parents agree on and stick to the plan. If one parent keeps letting the children down on the weekend that is his or her responsibility, the arrangements won’t work. This also leaves the children in a state of confusion, feeling very insecure and unloved.

The magic of compromise is that it creates a good place to move forward with how the relationship between you and your ex will work. At the end of the day you share the responsibility for your children and if you can manage that from a place of empathy and compromise you will manage the relationship in a much better and more healthy way. This is in the best interests of your children. If they see you both being respectful and flexible with each other it not only sets a good example to them of how adults should manage difficulties, but they will feel loved by both parents.

Can Mediation Help?

Are you trying to work out a parenting schedule with your ex-partner? Are you finding it difficult to reach agreement on this aspect of your separation? Here at Progressive Mediation, in Totnes, we are experienced with family separation situations and the conflict that can occur as parents try to work out finances and children’s’ arrangements. If you would like advice, please call Frances on 0788 903 9393.

New Year’s Resolutions for Separating Couples

Here we are again at the start of a new year, and tradition dictates that we should all be turning over a new leaf of some sort. It is a time of reflection, looking at the previous year and then planning how we can better ourselves over the coming year.

For divorced or separating couples, the best positive change you can make this year is to resolve conflict with your ex-spouse or partner. This is not only beneficial to you and your own healing process but also very important for your children.

We understand that many break ups are not simple and very often are fuelled by anger and hurt. Often each person feels the other doesn’t listen to them or respect them or their point of view. Children can often be drawn into these fights; used as weapons against the other parent, by withholding contact or forcing them to choose sides. Many studies show that it is not the divorce itself but how it is handled by parents that causes the most distress in their children.

Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions for Separating Couples

Effects of Conflict Between Parents on Their Children

Conflict between separated parents can have catastrophic effects on children. That knowledge can sometimes encourage parents in conflict on to make changes to the way they relate to each other.

Anyone can make changes in the way they relate to each other, although it is not easy.

Why does conflict between parents have such a damaging impact on children?

Continue reading Effects of Conflict Between Parents on Their Children

Family Mediation Services now available in Totnes

It is with great pride and excitement that we announce that we now provide all of our mediation services in Totnes and the surrounding South Devon areas. By opening a new branch of Progressive Mediation in Totnes, we are able to extend the reach of our services to a new area of the South West, whilst still supporting our clients in Bristol.

We have vast experience with family and separation mediation and in particular with child inclusive mediation. We offer all of our mediation services, with a very competitive fee structure, as we believe our services should be accessible to all, as an alternative to court proceedings.

The mediation services we offer:

MIAM (Mediation, Information and Assessment Meeting) – These are the initial meetings, usually lasting an hour, where we will provide you with information regarding mediation and discuss the alternative ways to resolve the issues arising from your divorce or separation without going through court. Note, that if you are considering going to court, it is now a legal requirement to attend a MIAM first to show that you have tried to resolve or reach compromise over your differences. Read further information about our MIAM Service.

Family Mediation – If you are divorcing or separating and find that you are struggling to communicate with your former partner to arrive at decisions involving your children or other family members; mediation can help. Whilst you both might be angry, upset and determined that court is the only answer to get these issues resolved, mediation can give you a neutral space in which to both be heard. Reaching compromise through mediation, where both parties will feel happy with the outcome is far more likely than if you were to go to court. Read more about our family mediation services.

Child Inclusive Mediation – Here in the UK, it is the recommendation that children over the age of 10 should be talked to and consulted during mediation. We can see the children on their own or with their siblings, in a private meeting that is confidential. Ensuring the children’s voices are heard and their wishes and needs are taken into consideration during decision making is very important, but we also emphasise that no pressure is placed upon the children to arrive at decisions and it is really a place for them to express their feelings and feel heard. Read more about our child inclusive mediation services.

Mediation for Financial Issues – As part of any separation or divorce there will always be complex decisions to arrive at regarding the family finances and how assets are divided up. These can include incomes, pensions, land and property, vehicles and child maintenance. Here at Progressive Mediation, we can steer you through the process of arriving at an agreement on these matters, starting with the creation of an Open Financial Statement. Read more information on our mediation for finances.

Parenting Coordination Services – This is a relatively new service to the UK, but will no doubt grow in popularity. Are you in a high conflict relationship with an ex-partner? Do you find it hard to communicate and decide arrangements for the children without fighting? The arguments and stress that can arise over simple arrangements are not uncommon, they can be about anything from diet through to frequency of contact or which school the child is to attend. We will advise and make impartial suggestions to the parents to resolve issues and improve the levels of communication between them. This is very similar to the role of a family mediator, but is an ongoing and continuous support to ensure that things don’t break down over small issues as life continues. Read more about our parenting coordination services.

Can we help you?

If you live in Totnes or any surrounding area in South Devon and would like to find out more about our mediation services, please do give us a call on 0788 903 9393. We have years of experience with many different family situations and have helped many families move forward to a positive future after separation. You can read some of our case studies here or have a look at some of our testimonials.

Further Articles You May Find Helpful

Insecurities in Children with Separated Parents

Understanding and Helping Under 11s through Divorce and Separation

Understanding and Helping Teenagers through Divorce and Separation

Loyalty Issues and Conflict in Children after Separation

Attachment Bonding in Parent and Child Relationships

Putting the Children First after Separation

Fun Things to do with the Kids this summer in Bristol – 2018

Schools are out and parents have a long 6 weeks to find things to do with their kids. The British weather has certainly not let us down this year, with the amazing sunshine we have been enjoying so far! Even if you are working parents there will still be time to do some fantastic things with your kids. We have compiled a list of things to do in Bristol that you may not have thought of; have a look and see what takes your fancy. Continue reading Fun Things to do with the Kids this summer in Bristol – 2018

New Parenting Coordination Services in Bristol and Totnes

We are proud to announce that we can now offer parenting coordination services to parents in Bristol, Totnes and surrounding areas. These services are relatively new in the UK, but have been very popular in the United States and Canada in the last few years. The idea of having a parent coordinator is to help parents in high conflict to communicate better and resolve issues where the children are concerned. The focus is on the welfare and best decisions being made in the interests of the children.

How does the service work?

After separation or divorce, the arrangements for the children can be something that causes a lot of conflict, especially if communication is difficult or has broken down. Parents can disagree on many things from what the kids are given to eat, through to which school they will attend or timings of contact. Our Parenting Coordinator will be as involved as is necessary. Every case is individual with different needs and varying degrees of conflict.

For Parenting Coordination to work, both parents need to be in agreement that the coordinator will be involved in the decision making and will be the mutual point of contact. Unless both parents are completely on board with this, it won’t work.

What can the Coordinator help with?

Our fully qualified parenting Coordinator is trained to deal with any situation that may arise by encouraging the resolution of the conflict and helping to brainstorm ideas to reach compromise. Here are some common things that she helps parents with:

  • Developing a parenting plan with the children’s interests at the forefront
  • Change over timings and meeting points
  • Regularity of contact and holidays
  • Medical decisions
  • Education choices
  • Identify and manage conflicts
  • To communicate more effectively
  • Understanding the impact of conflict on children and develop a more sensitive approach in this area
  • Negotiate appropriate post-divorce or separation boundaries
  • Identify mutually agreeable parenting goals
  • Brainstorm ideas and options to reduce conflict and achieve the parenting goals

Do I need a Parenting Coordinator?

Are you in high conflict with your ex-partner? Do you argue regularly about arrangements for your children? Are you constantly going back to court to get disagreements sorted?

Parents can make their own decision to appoint a parenting coordinator, but in some cases they may be appointed by the court. It might be that there are serious concerns over the mental health or behaviour of one of the parents or a history of substance abuse or family violence.

Can we Help You?

Here at Progressive Mediation, we are fully qualified as parenting coordinators as well as being extremely experienced in all aspects of family mediation. If you would like to speak to us about your situation and find out more about our parenting coordination services, call us today on 0117 924 3880.

Taking your new Partner on Holiday with your Kids

 

Families come in all shapes and sizes these days and holiday time can mean organising trips with a mixture of children from different relationships, new partners, step parents and many variations. There are many guides and articles online designed to help the parent who has been left behind; with guidance on what do to fill their time and cope without their children as well as not show their anger for the ex’s new partner going away with their children.

But this blog is about the parent that is taking the children away with a new partner in tow. Whilst the parent left behind could be envisaging their children having a glorious time with the new step mum or Dad and feeling jealous, there are just as many visualising their child having a dreadful time away with the evil new partner. The truth be known it is probably somewhere in the middle!

When is too soon to take your new partner on holiday with your children?

Once children are familiar with a new partner and a relationship has been established, you will be in a much better place to judge if you think the children would be happy and comfortable with the idea of a holiday together. It is going to depend a lot on the ages of the children and also on how their other parent reacts and behaves about the holiday plans.

A new partner who gets on well with your children is likely to be a fun addition to the experience and also an extra parental support from your point of view as a single parent.

However, if you are a newly separated parent, dashing off on holiday with the kids and bringing a new partner along for the ride could be a very different story. It is important to remember that if your kids are still adjusting after their parents’ separation, they will be feeling vulnerable and confused. If you are in a very new relationship, where the children are not used to seeing their Mum or Dad with someone new, going on a family holiday in the early stages would be a mistake. Holidays with kids can be stressful and everyone would be stuck in close proximity for the duration.

So to answer the question; ‘When is too soon?’ It will be different in every situation but to judge it you need to think from your children’s perspective. You may be madly in love with your new partner, but your children need to build their own relationship with them and that should not be forced upon them in a situation where they can’t get away. They may feel jealous of attention you give to the new partner and feel even more abandoned.

Tips for making the first holiday together a Great Trip

  • Travelling with your kids (especially the under 10s) can be stressful, so consider the destination and the travel time when you plan the holiday. A long haul flight and long transfers will start things off on a stress filled and tired note for all involved.
  • Make the first holiday, short and sweet so that if it does go a bit wrong, you aren’t stuck somewhere together for 3 weeks wishing you were home. A prolonged period of time stuck with anyone can be intense and from your new partners point of view being thrust into family life whilst off home territory could be enough to send them running for the hills.
  • If you can, make sure you have a kids club or babysitting service arranged so that you can get a little alone time with your new partner. After all you don’t want to kill the romance completely, you deserve some ‘you time’ too and your new partner will also be happy about this.
  • Be sure to involve everyone including the kids, in the process of planning for the holiday, if everyone has been involved they will be much more likely to be excited about it and keen to go rather than apprehensive.
  • Make sure that you have given the other parent plenty of notice about the holiday, and you have spoken to them to make sure they are ok with the fact that your new partner is going along. The last thing you want to have to encounter is an angry ex-partner who may feel that they have not been consulted about plans with their own children.

Tips for the new partner whilst on holiday with his or her kids

  • Don’t try to take over the discipline of the kids if they get unruly, equally don’t ignore the situation, you need to support the parent in their decisions on how to deal with it.
  • Respect the kids’ relationship with their parent and don’t try to come between them by demanding attention and alone time.
  • Don’t try to force everyone to do an activity on the holiday that really is all about you, the children will not take kindly to being forced to walk up a deserted hill to a monument just because you want to. Try to include everyone in the decisions so that everyone feels heard. But if you really want to see that monument and no one else does, go by yourself and give your partner time with the kids, this is just as important.
  • Don’t get upset if the children refer to their other parent by saying things like: ‘When we are on holiday with Dad, we usually do….’ It is only natural for children to want to talk about their other parent and memories that they have with them. It is not a deliberate dig at you, you need to remain positive about any mentions of the other parent.
  • Be natural and be yourself – don’t try to be a super hero replacement parent that is determined to give them a better holiday than their other parent would. Children aren’t daft and they will pick up on this kind of behaviour.

On behalf of all of us here at Progressive Mediation, we hope you have a happy and successful first holiday with your children and new partner! Just remember that nothing will always be 100% perfect and problems or arguments may arise, but it’s how you deal with these situations that will matter the most. Always put the children first – happy children = happy holiday!

Direct Consultation for Children over the age of 10

When parents decide to separate it can be a very difficult time for everyone involved. The age of the child needs to be considered when determining how involved they should be the decisions concerning the arrangements for them.

Babies and toddlers will obviously have little understanding of what is happening and wouldn’t be able to vocalise or even make choices about their situation.

As children get older their awareness becomes more mature and due to the now very complicated arrangements that can be made for children after separation, it is more important for their views to be heard.

Continue reading Direct Consultation for Children over the age of 10

Insecurities in Children with Separated Parents

This is obviously a massive topic and a very complex one. It is very important to point out that children can react very differently to situations and no two families are the same either. It is also important to emphasise that children become stressed in any situation where they don’t feel secure, so it can happen just as often in families where the parents decide not to split up.

What I am trying to say is that whether you have decided to separate or stay together as a couple, children pick up on everything, even if there are not raging arguments, silence and a lack of demonstrative affection between parents will still affect your children.

Continue reading Insecurities in Children with Separated Parents

Children Back to or Starting School – Tips for Separated Parents

Going back to school in September can be a tough time for children, as it marks the end of the long care free summer holidays. There will be new teachers to get to know and possibly new class mates too.

It could be that your child is starting school for the first time, going into reception class or perhaps they are starting a new school, leaving old friends behind to adjust to a new school and new peers. All this is plenty to deal with, but if your child is dealing with the break-up of their parents over the summer on top of these stresses, it can be a very difficult time.

Here are some top tips for newly separated parents of school aged children who now face an emotional time coupled with new routines between two households or maybe just one with one parent.

Continue reading Children Back to or Starting School – Tips for Separated Parents

What to do in Bristol this Summer with the Kids 2017

The Summer Holidays are nearly upon us and if you have kids you know only too well that keeping them entertained is important for your sanity, whatever their ages. To help you, we have pulled together a diverse list of events, festivals and campsites to appeal to families in Bristol and the surrounding areas.

Festivals and Events

Always great fun for the whole family, Bristol and the surrounding areas host an amazing mix of events, festivals, fairs and carnivals. Here are a few of them to check out this summer:

Bath Carnival 2017 – 15th and 16th July – FREE

A huge free party celebrating Carnival arts in the centre of Bath. A vibrant procession including South American drumming, Caribbean steel pan, Mardi Gras style brass, a range of traditional and contemporary dance choreography and crazy colourful costumes!

Corston Country Fair – 15th July – Adults £1 – Kids FREE

Corston Fair has been running for 100 years, a traditional fair with dog show, classic cars, bouncy castle and a good community vibe.

The Bristol Harbour Festival – 21st to 23rd July – FREE

A massive free event at Bristol Harbourside. If you are a fan of arts, circus, dance, music, boats, nautical capers, good food and drink and general enjoyment – this is a great event withplenty going on for younger children at the Castle Park area with Cirque Bijou. There’ll be things to make and do, inflatables, singing, storytelling, dancing and acrobatic performances. Read more information here.

Upfest 2017 – 29 to 31 July – FREE

Europe’s largest, free, street art & graffiti festival which takes place in Bedminster and Southville. 300 artists from 30 countries will paint at 35 venues live on 30,000sqft of surfaces in front of 35,000 visitors! This is delight for all ages with plenty of opportunities for hands on experience with children’s workshops including Morph making with Aardman. Find out more here.

Thai & Multi Cultural Food Festival – 29th to 30th July – Adults £4, Children £1

Held in Millennium Square, this will be a colourful and cultural event with stalls, Thai food, Thai boxing demo, fashion shows and entertainment for children. Read more about the event here.

Weston Dairy Festival 2017 – 3rd Aug to 6th Aug

A celebration of Livestock, Agriculture and Local Producers of food and crafts taking place on the Beach Lawns in Weston-Super-Mare. Expect everything from sheep shearing and milking to Shire horse displays and a dog and duck show. Find out more here.

Gloucester Road Summer Street Party – 5th Aug – FREE

Street Party hosted by Nailsea Electrical. Expect live music all day, food & drink stalls, free Gin & Wine tasting sessions, Fully Licensed bar all day and extended into the evening. Don’t miss Mr Whompy, the UK’s only DJ ice cream van!

RedFest 2017 – 5 Aug – 6 Aug – FREE

Redfest Bristol is a Community Interest Company which exists to provide a free community music and arts festival based in the Redfield and St. George areas of East Bristol. So much to do and see including an eclectic range of acts including folk, rock, dance, jazz, reggae and world music.

There is also film screenings, cabaret, photography exhibitions, street art demonstrations, children’s entertainment, workshops and storytelling. Find out more here.

South Gloucestershire Show 2017 – 5th and 6th Aug – Adults £10, kids £6, under 5s FREE

This year will see everything from motorcycle stunts, dog displays and pig racing! A huge line up of local bands, fabulous food, BMX area, kids zone and loads more. Find out more here.

Islamic Cultural Fayre – 6th Aug – FREE

Eastville Park! One of the local calendar’s largest free festivals, pulling in 12,000+ visitors each year, expect to find more than 100 stalls in the bazaar, large funfair, 5-a-side football tournament, glorious food, live stage and general family fun. Find out more here.

Hoo-Ha! 2017 – Tue 15 – Thu 17 Aug – FREE Activities (ticketed shows from around £10)

Held at the Colston Hall, the children’s shows which are ticketed include Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Dino School. But there is loads of free fun in the foyer, including: Ready Sheddy Disgo, Explorer Dome Inflatable Planetarium, Singalong Band, Lets Make Art craft activities, Boris the Bookworm and Face painting. See what’s on here.

Educational Exhibitions

If you are looking for something a little more educational or perhaps it’s raining, have a look at these exhibitions:

Skeletons: Our Buried Bones – 8 April—3 September 2017 – Pay what you think

M-Shed. This will possibly be of interest to older children. A fascinating exhibition of twelve human skeletons from Bristol and London, each with a unique story to tell. Find out more here.

Pliosaurus! – 17 June 2017 – 7 Jan 2018 – Pay what you think

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Come face to face with a Jurassic beast if you dare! Discovered in Westbury, Wiltshire in 1994, this is the world’s only example of a new species of pliosaur on public display for the first time.

Pliosaurs are so big that it took ten years to prepare all the fossils that were found! Aimed at 3-11 year olds, this exhibition offers a range of activities to investigate how this special creature lived and died. Find out more here.

Family Friendly Campsites near Bristol

If you want to get the family out of town for a few days and back to nature, consider these campsites which all have playgrounds or facilities for kids:

Brook Lodge Farm Camping & Caravan ParkNear WringtonAll the facilities for a comfortable camp including wifi, washing machines, fridge, play areas all set in 4.5 acres of lovely countryside.

Greenacres Camping – Near Glastonbury – simple, clean and well looked after facilities with all the basics covered for some wholesome family fun. Showers and toilets but no loud club house or entertainment. Just proper camping in an idyllic setting. They do have fridges available for guests to share.

Netwood Farm – East Harptree – Small and friendly site for campers to come and enjoy all the countryside has to offer. Lake and woodland view fields with children’s play areas and lots of attractions and activities close by.

Petruth Paddocks – Cheddar – Very family friendly with all the facilities you need. Farmer will deliver logs and a fire pit to your pitch and sometimes local meat and sausages. If you are lucky the kids get given a ride in the link box around the field when it’s empty.

Beeches Farm Camping – Chepstow – lovely traditional camping with amazing views over the Wye Valley. Lots of space for children to run around and an ideal place for groups of families to camp together. Fresh laid eggs available too!

Have an amazing summer, whatever you decide to do!

From all of us at Progressive Mediation.

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Continue reading Putting The Children First After Separation