Category Archives: Family Mediation

How to Share Child Care Over the Summer Holidays

Shared Child Care over the summer holidays

The school summer holidays can strike fear into the heart of any working parent. 6 long weeks with no school or childcare can be a juggling act between parents at the best of times, but for separated parents it can be even harder. The added expense of holiday clubs and other activities can really put a strain on the finances too. So how do separated parents cope with the situation? Here are some examples of how some parents have made arrangements this summer… Continue reading How to Share Child Care Over the Summer Holidays

International Child Abduction – Is Mediation Possible?

Around 500 British children were abducted and taken abroad by one of their parents in 2014. That’s double the number taken ten years ago.

Ease of travel and a growth in cross border relationships have meant that more break-ups result in difficult decisions for separating parents. Continue reading International Child Abduction – Is Mediation Possible?

Unmarried Couples and the Law when Separating

Blog updated on the 22nd Nov 2017 – all information is current.

Cohabiting Couples who are separating – What protection do they have under the law?

More than 6 million people in Britain currently live in cohabiting relationships, and this is the fastest growing family type in UK.

There is now growing public pressure to increase protection for unmarried couples who are separating. Next week is Cohabitation Awareness Week (November 27th – 1st December 2017), so we thought this might be a good time to highlight this issue.

At the moment, despite the widespread belief that living together for a period of time, gives some rights, there are actually very few legal rights for unmarried couples, and there is definitely no legal concept of a ‘common law husband’ or ‘common law wife’ in UK law. In fact, it’s possible for a couple to live together for decades, to have children together, and on separation to walk away from the relationship without taking any responsibility for a former partner.

This can have a huge impact, particularly if one of the couple, usually the woman, has taken time out of work to look after children.

So what does this lack of protection this mean for unmarried couples who are separating?

Of course, unmarried couples can separate informally without the intervention of a court of law. However, if agreement cannot be reached between separating partners the court does have power to make orders relating to the care of the children, or a financial settlement.

Dividing Assets – Jointly Owned Property

For unmarried couples when it comes to dividing up capital assets, such as a jointly owned home, in general this will be governed by property law, rather than family law. This means that if a claim doesn’t succeed the losing party may have to pay the other party’s costs. Claims can be made under the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996 (known as ToLATA for short). A court can decide what proportion of the property each partner owns, and whether the property should be sold to release one partner’s share in it.

If the unmarried couple owns a property it is crucially significant whether they own it as Joint Tenants or as Tenants in Common. If the couple owns the property as Joint Tenants they are taken as owning the property equally irrespective of their contributions (i.e. towards deposit or mortgage). On death the property will go to the other party. If the property is owned as Tenants in Common, it is likely that there will be a declaration of trust defining the percentages in which they hold the property – usually based on their contributions to the purchase price. On death people can choose who to leave their part of the property to.

For properties bought after April 1998 the transfer document (TR1) should set out the parties’ interest – i.e. as Joint Tenants, as Tenants in Common in equal shares, or Tenants in Common in unequal shares, and those shares are usually specified. However, in many cases the TR1 will not have been completed. If the property was bought prior to April 1998 you can tell by looking at office copy title entries (available from the Land Registry) how the couple hold their shares. If there is no evidence otherwise the assumption is that they are Joint Tenants in law and that the property should be divided equally between them.

Dividing Assets – Property owned by one partner

If property is owned by one partner, then the other partner has no automatic entitlement to any share of the property, but it may be possible for them to make a case that the they have an interest in it. Ideally this would be in the form of a written agreement. Or if they can prove that they made a financial contribution to the purchase or upkeep of the property, or that there was an understanding between partners that both would have a share in the property if it was sold. A court could therefore decide the unnamed partner had a ‘beneficial interest’ in the property. In rare cases this might mean that they then have the right to live in the home, preventing the named owner from living there, or it might mean them getting a share of the proceeds if the property is sold. Inevitably these cases are very hard to prove, and can be very expensive and time consuming.

Property – Children Involved

The other circumstance when it could be possible for a partner whose name is not on the property deeds to claim an interest in a property is when there are children living in the property. Under Schedule 1 of the Children’s Act 1989 if there are children living in a family home, even if the primary carer’s name isn’t on the property deeds it is possible that court would order a lump sum payment, or the transfer of the property to the primary carer if it was felt to be in the children’s best interests, but it would usually link this to a return of the named partner’s capital when the children grow up.

Property – Rented

If cohabitees have been renting a property together, the tenant with their name on the tenancy agreement will have the most right to stay in the property, although it is possible to convert existing sole tenancies to joint tenancies if the sole tenant and the landlord agree. With a joint tenancy it only takes one person to bring the tenancy to an end, and once it is done the court cannot do anything to get the tenancy back, but a court can make an order stopping either partner from giving up a tenancy. Unmarried partners can also get short-term rights to stay if they apply to court. For council or housing association tenants a court can transfer a tenancy from one partner to another, whether it is a sole or joint tenancy. The court would have to weigh up financial and housing needs and the needs of any children before deciding whether to transfer a tenancy

Pensions

There is usually no entitlement to each other’s pensions for unmarried couples (unless they are already being paid).

Arrangements for Children

When it comes to making arrangements for children, it is important that both parents have ‘Parental Responsibility’.

Parental Responsibility

Both parents are assumed to have on-going financial responsibility for their children whether or not they are living with them. Since December 2003 unmarried fathers who are on their children’s birth certificate automatically have Parental Responsibility for them. This gives them the right to have a say in important decisions about the child’s life – i.e. schooling, religion and education. If the father is not named on the birth certificate and the couple is not married the father can apply for Parental Responsibility on separation. Similarly if the father is named on the birth certificate and the child was born before December 2003 the father would need to apply for Parental Responsibility.

Child Maintenance

This is the one area of law where the rights of unmarried parents are no different from married parents. Unmarried parents have the right to cliam child maintenance and unmarried parents are still liable for claims of Child Maintenance whether or not they have Parental Responsibility.

Spousal Mainteneance

No spousal maintenance is payable between cohabiting couples. However, a court can consider the position of a parent (usually the mother) who is the primary carer of the child and “should have control of a budget that reflects her position and the position of the father, both social and financial.”

How Mediation can Help

In mediation we are often aiming to come up with a Memorandum of Understanding and an Open Financial Statement. For unmarried couples these can then be incorporated into a legally binding Separation Agreement which constitutes a full and final settlement between them.

As you can see the law is particularly complicated for unmarried couples and it can be easy to become involved in costly litigation.

However, in mediation couples can make realistic, practical and fair settlements that do have regard to the law but that can focus on the practical reality of their life and their children’s lives in the future rather than the minutiae of the law.

If you would like further advice on separation when not married; please give us a call on 0117 924 3880.

Mentally Preparing for Mediation

Your circumstances and the reasons for your imminent divorce or separation, both play a big part in how you will deal with mediation as a couple and therefore how you will have to mentally prepare yourself for the process.

If for example, you have had a tempestuous relationship with your spouse or partner, with lots of arguing, shouting and even violence, you may have to prepare for an emotional roller coaster. In these cases we try and ensure that the mediation process is conducted in a calm and civilised way. If there are signs of anger, raised voices or mental bullying, the mediator will call a break in the discussions until all parties have calmed down.

Continue reading Mentally Preparing for Mediation

Mediation FAQs

  1. Is Mediation compulsory?

No. Mediation is not compulsory. Since April 2014 it is compulsory for people who are divorcing or separating and who want to make an application to the court about their children or finances to attend an initial meeting (or MIAM) with a Family Mediator before using the courts. This is for them to find out whether mediation may be suitable for them. (Exceptions are made in a few cases for example where there has been domestic violence.) However if after this initial meeting either of the couple do not wish to mediate then Mediation will not proceed. The government is keen to encourage people to mediate because it is quicker and cheaper than using the courts. Mediation also helps minimise conflict between couples separating. There is no longer any legal aid for divorce cases to go to court, many people on low incomes will be eligible for legal aid for Family Mediation.

  1. What is a MIAM?

A MIAM is a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting. It is the first meeting between a client and Family Mediator, and the purpose of the meeting is for the Mediator to find out what the client wants to resolve, and to explain how the Mediation process works. If the client might be eligible for legal aid, the Mediator can calculate this based on the client’s income, for which they need to bring proof to the meeting. MIAMs tend to last between half an hour and an hour and usually separating couples attend them as individuals. Progressive Mediation gives free MIAMs.

Continue reading Mediation FAQs

Divorce and Separation Mediation Case Studies

Everyone’s divorce or separation is different, but I think it’s sometimes helpful to read about what other people have gone through, particularly when you are feeling that there is no good way out of your situation. These are two recent cases we have worked on which I thought would be worth sharing. When they first came in both couples were very stuck and couldn’t see a way forward. Through Mediation both couples reached settlements which, if they were not exactly happy about, they could live with. Even more importantly communication improved dramatically and they could begin to build their new relationship as separated parents.

Continue reading Divorce and Separation Mediation Case Studies

Am I Eligible for legal Aid for Mediation?

Progressive Mediation can provide free Family Mediation to clients who are eligible for legal aid. We are working in conjunction with Compass Resolution, a mediation service based in Devon who have won an outreach contract for us to provide legally aided Mediation in Bristol, Totnes and surrounding South Devon areas.

Continue reading Am I Eligible for legal Aid for Mediation?

Ten New Year Resolutions for Separating Parents

  1. Respect and support each other as parents even if you are furious with each other as exes.
  1. Don’t fight in front of your children and particularly don’t fight about their arrangements in front of them.
  1. Be happy that your child has another parent, and if you can try to foster their love for the other parent and encourage them to have a healthy relationship.
  1. Listen to your children and (depending on their ages) allow them a say in the arrangements for their lives. Be prepared for those arrangements to change as they grow and develop.
  1. Write a Parenting Plan. A Parenting Plan is a written document which spells out how you and the other parent intend on sharing childcare duties and responsibilities going forward. The plan can include everything from where children spend the nights on weekends to who they spend Christmas day with.

httpss://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parenting-plan.aspx

  1. Make a will. You may have written one already, or it may never have crossed your mind, but your new situation requires a new will, or at the very least an update to your existing one.
  1. Take your time before introducing your children to a new partner, and don’t expect them to click immediately.
  1. Allow your children the right to express their anger at the new situation without fear that you will become upset or defensive.
  1. Don’t beat yourself up! Children are adaptable and have been shown to cope well with separation. What causes them long lasting difficulties is on-going conflict between their parents, so if you can overcome that you will have done as much as you can.
  1. Talk! To each other, to your children, to others who look after them. Keep people in the picture about your new circumstances otherwise they won’t be able to support you. If you can’t talk about things without arguing – you may need to get some help. We would be happy to talk to you and discuss with you whether mediation might be able to help you and your children.  Call Frances or Charles on 01179243880 0r 07889039393

Separated Parents at Christmas – How to Share Time with the Children

Christmas Experience for a newly Separated Couple with Children.

Today’s blog is a real life experience from a newly separated Mum with 3 young children. She shares her plans for how she and her ex intend to share the care fairly over the Christmas period. For the sake of anonymity the names have been changed.

“My husband and I separated in the summer, so this Christmas is our first where we will not be spending the festive period all together as a family. We now live separately and the children spend an equal time with each of us. The rota for the shared parenting is well established now although is flexible if work commitments dictate.

Christmas Day

I was nervous about Christmas Day! Who was going to have the kids? Would I only see them every other year on Christmas day?

Fortunately my ex-husband and I are able to communicate in a fairly amicable way. We agreed that it would be good for the children to have Christmas day in his house as it is new to him and them and it would make it more like home for them there. I agreed to let him have them over night on Christmas Eve so they wake up to their stockings at his house. But, as the children want to see me too, I am going over for lunch and to do presents as a family.

So in order that both sets of grandparents get to see the children as well, we have agreed the following arrangements:

Christmas Eve: I have kids for my family do, then take them to John’s in the evening.

Christmas Day: John has kids, I go for lunch and stay a while.

Boxing Day: John takes kids to his family do and then drops them back in the evening to me.

Christmas Presents

Another reason I am so glad that I can communicate with my ex! We are doing presents from both of us just as we always have. One thing we did not want to do was get into a competition over presents as we have seen this happen with other separated parents. Each of them trying to buy the biggest and best present in an attempt to win the kids over.

We have a shared online calendar and spreadsheet so we can add in all the arrangements and money we have each spent on gifts etc.

I am a little sad that I won’t see the kids first thing in the morning when they open their stockings but they won’t open their main presents from us until I get there. Next year we will reverse the arrangement. I feel very glad that John and I are able to put our difficulties aside and focus on the children and what they need.”

How can mediation help?

Sadly not all separated couples are able to remain amicable and find it very difficult to communicate to make arrangements in general about the children, let alone agree on plans for Christmas time. Mediation between parents means that arguments over who has the kids at Christmas can be resolved in a calm way on neutral territory with an experienced listening ear. There may be ways to work things out that neither parent had thought of.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help separated parents with Mediation, call Frances on 0117 924 3880.

What Children Say about Divorce

Sometimes the voice of children whose parents are divorcing or separating gets lost in all the other noise and discussion surrounding the process. We thought it would be useful to hear things children have said about their parents’ separation.

Most parents worry terribly about the impact of their split on their children, but plenty of research shows that children can adapt well to separation, what they cannot cope with is ongoing conflict between their parents. Have a read of some of these quotes: 

Sabrina (14)

‘I wouldn’t want Mum and Dad to get back together, it was awful when they were always arguing. The only bad thing now is when they argue, so I’d like it if they could get on a bit better.’

 

Sally (12)

“They separated because my dad said he’s just stopped loving my mum ‘cos they been together now much longer than he’d really wanted to. He said he stayed, just because of the children. You know, us two. He said he didn’t really want to leave when we were too young, he explained to me that he was thinking of leaving quite a long time ago.”

 

Ellie (10) talking about how she feels when her parents argue when they meet.

“I feel horrible actually. It’s just I can’t stop them cos one’s my Dad and one’s my Mum. It seems like it’s all my fault when they are arguing. It just makes me feel horrible. I just feel that they’re arguing cos of me, cos I was born and cos I have to be picked up at a certain time, and it’s just horrible.”

 

Quentin (13)

‘Sometimes you come back home and feel fed up, like annoyed that you have to do this, like have separate mums and separate dads, and you don’t want to do it anymore, but you can cope it really, you get used to it.’

 

Mark (15)

‘Children should get a say in things, they shouldn’t be left out. I mean, it’s their life as well, they shouldn’t be stuck with someone they didn’t want to be with.’

 

Jake (11)

‘I think there should be some kind of agreement between the children and the parents as to what should happen. I think the people who are involved should get to decide, not by themselves, but by helping each other to reach some kind of agreement as to what would be best.’

 

Susan (14)

“All I really know about Mum and Dad’s divorce is the money side. My Dad didn’t tell me about the divorces papers, ‘cos I now there was a lot of things that Mum put on there which was quite cruel and untrue. Dad just told me a couple of things that were on there, but he said it was private. And I think he was trying to protect us,  protect me in some ways.”

 

Sophie (15)

“I think the kids should know what is going on, because I think ti’s very unfair to keep them in the dark. Because it’s their parents. And maybe, if, when the parents are going to solicitors, maybe the solicitor of someone explaining to them (children), instead of their parents, ‘cos their parents might not understand ti. So if they (children) have somebody explain what’s going on, then they may find it better. But that was just my case. Other people might not want to know what’s going on.”

 

Daniel (14)

“I think it’s important to know the legal side of things. ‘Cos then you know completely what’s going on , and it helps you. You know where you are, what’s going on. And then, I don’t think you should know every bit of it, like, ‘cos some things are private to my mother. I think it should be explained to you by your parents. But I think it should only be explained to you by your parents. ‘Cos then you are comfortable with who’s speaking to you.”           

 

Ursula (19)

‘The children should get a say, and the parents should be able to sort things out for everyone – they should be able to act like adults about it really.’

 

Rachel (16)

‘When you parents don’t live together it’s a lot easier to say, “Oh God, I hate my mum of dad, I’m going to move out and live with the other parent,” and you play them off against each other, instead of working it out.’

 

Pele (10)

‘You get on with your life and then when something comes up, you just sort of try and cross that bridge when you come to it.’

 

Jamal (6)

‘I call my Mum’s boyfriend Uncle Sylvester. I know he’s not my real Uncle or anything, but we like it.’

 

Luke (7)

‘You have more people to talk to and be with. There are more people to care about you.’

 

Sioned (12)  

I’m happy that they got divorced cos if they hadn’t then they’d be arguing all my life and then I’d be all upset. And it’s more happier without shouting all the time. cos if they haven’t got divorced and I’m sure that they’d still be shouting now. My Dad’s happy and on the phone now, my Mum and Dad get on. They’re friends now. It’s more fun and everything’s happy – everywhere.” 

At progressive Mediation we are very experienced in helping parents to communicate with their children after separation or divorce. Call us if you would like to find out more about mediation with children on 0117 924 3880.

Practical Guide to Introducing new partners from the point of view of the child…

With one in ten families in the UK now being a step-family, and one in three people being involved in a step-family in one way or other, the nuclear family of biological parents living together with their children under one roof is now seen as a pretty out-of-date typecast of the British family.

New relationships are a natural and common occurrence in separating families and finding a new partner can be a happy and exciting time for people whose previous relationship has ended. However, no matter how joyful this new relationship maybe it’s important to recognise the effect that introducing a new partner can have on any child involved. So it’s vital to consider very carefully how to go about introducing a new partner to a child, to limit any unwanted detrimental effects that may be caused. That’s why Progressive Mediation have put together the following top tips on how to introduce new partners into separating families from a child-centred approach, to form a handy guide for parents….

Think before you act

Before you introduce your new partner into your child’s life it is crucial that you think realistically about the future of your new relationship. As much as you may feel love struck at the moment, think about yourself and past relationship experiences- will this be a long-term relationship? Nobody wants to have the dreaded “Where is this going conversation?” but you have a genuine excuse to bring it up when there are children involved. You don’t want to introduce every date or short-term relationship to your children, as most children will find this overwhelming and destabilising. So think first and only make introductions when enough time has elapsed and you feel sure as you can that it will be a long-term relationship.

Talk to your ex before the child

If the other biological parent of the child is still in the child’s life talk to them about the new partner before you talk to the child. It may not be an easy conversation but a very common issue that prevents successful mediations is when an ex has introduced a new partner to children without consulting the other biological parent. Despite, whatever has gone on between you in the past as a couple, you are still a parenting team, and successful teamwork relies on communication and trust, so it’s important to let you’re ex-partner know if you’re going to introduce a new adult into your child’s life.

Talk to child before introducing new partner

“Mummy who’s that man in the loo?”

“That’s you’re new daddy”

“But what about my old daddy?”

During separation children are susceptible to feeling vulnerable and ungrounded. A scene such as the one above is only going to enhance the likelihood of these feelings of vulnerability, when in fact, such negative effects towards children from introduction of a new partner can be completely avoided. Be careful how you bring up the new partner, and do not suggest that they are in any way a replacement for the other biological parent, depending on the child’s age you may refer to them as a ‘special friend’ or if they are older don’t shy away from terms like ‘boyfriend/girlfriend’ as older children will know and will not like being lied to. You can explain how you feel, that you like this person and that you’re spending time together and that they are helping support you. Children want their parents to be happy, and if they see the positive effect the new partner has on you, this may make them feel better too.

Fun first meeting

 Take the children out somewhere neutral, and do something fun- going to the cinema or bowling are good suggestions. Anything that distracts away from the introduction to make it a less tense time for all involved, don’t forget that the new partner may be feeling nervous too, and the children will be more wary of them if they are acting in an unnatural way.

Take it slow

 After the first meeting, however brilliantly it went, don’t immediately bring the new partner round for dinner, take things slowly. When families separate children can feel insecure due to all the changes going on in their lives and they need time to adjust to these changes so they feel secure with them. Perhaps if you went to the cinema on your first meeting, on the second you could go to a park, where there is a little possibility to make conversation but it is still not the centre of focus. Then, only once the children know this person and feel comfortable around them, invite them to your home, or else it will feel like an invasion of their safe territory. Only invite your new partner to stay over when your children are home, when plenty of time has passed and they are fully comfortable with them, and warn the children before, you can refer to this as a ´sleepover´.

Avoid kisses and cuddles with new partner in front of child

 Try to avoid kissing or cuddling your new partner in front of your child. They may find this unsettling and it may make them feel jealous which could lead to feelings of resentment towards the new partner or insecurity and upset.

Quality time with you

 One of the most important things to avoid upset when introducing a new partner to your child is to ensure you still spend quality time alone with them, whether its talking to them about their day, their feelings, or helping them with reading, it´s even more important at this time to ensure you spend lots of time with them and show them they are loved. This will leave them feeling loved, secure and able to face any changes or challenges the transition into a step-family may bring.

 Communication

Finally, and most importantly COMMUNICATE. With your child, with your ex-partner, with your new partner.  Make sure your children are aware that you´re happy and willing to talk with them whenever they need you.

Parenting after Separation – How to Communicate

Research shows that while children can adapt well to their parents’ separation, what they cannot cope with is prolonged exposure to conflict between their parents. Conflict between separated parents is shown to impact negatively on children’s long-term outcomes in relationships, career progression and emotional well-being.

Continue reading Parenting after Separation – How to Communicate

Shared Parenting Schedules – How to work it out

Over four million children in Britain now live in separated families – that’s equal to a third of the children in the country. Some couples choose to have one resident parent, with the other parent having weekend and mid-week time with their children, but others prefer to divide up their children’s time differently and 50/50 shared parenting agreements are now becoming increasingly popular. Despite their attraction these arrangements can be complicated to plan and manage.

Mediation Can Help you Work out the  Schedules for Seeing the Children

Continue reading Shared Parenting Schedules – How to work it out

Helping Children through Divorce and Separation

Ilustração - Pais a lutar pelo filhoWhen parents’ divorce or separate children often end up in the middle. Often parents are too wrapped up in their own issues to realise the impact on their children. How can this be fair?

Many children might not even completely understand what is going on, but even for older children and teenagers who do, this can be hard. Being surrounded by divorce can be so difficult for children, and it is sometimes hard to see the emotional effects the experience may have.

Helping separating couples to work out the details of their split with minimum negative impact on the children is a big part of the mediation process that we provide at Progressive Mediation. Much can be learned through the experiences of others too and we recently read these two relevant articles that we think you will find of real interest:

Divorce advice for the 250,000 children who need it

Where can children go to talk about the divorce of their parents and breakdown of their family? The number of places is very limited, until now. This article on the Times website introduces Kids in the Middle, a new internet helpline for children whose parents are splitting up. Who better to talk to children going through divorce than teenagers who already have this experience? Progressive Mediation have been involved with Kids in the Middle from its beginnings by helping with fund raising activities; so have a look at the article and see if you agree with us that it is a fantastic idea.

When Parents Split Up – Your Stories

This article by The Guardian was created by collecting stories people were willing to share about their experiences of divorce when they were children. Many of the people who have shared stories in the article are grown up now. We have to say that parts of this article are heart moving, and it really emphasises the importance of including children’s voices in mediation and where appropriate seeing the children, so that they have the opportunity to talk. Click here to read the stories for yourself.

Here at Progressive Mediation we sometimes see children, particularly when they are caught up in the middle of their parents’ conflict. They may have conflicting loyalties, saying one thing to one parent and something else to the other. We often find that what children say to us, and what is most important to them, is that their parents stop fighting.

If you would like further information about how we may be able to help you to do the best for your children through the divorce and separation process then please call us on 0117 924 3880.

Good News – New Legally Aided Family Mediation Service

During divorce and separation the costs of solicitors and court proceedings can be expensive, and many people cannot afford such fees. Whereas the costs of mediation are significantly less, making it a more accessible process for people who cannot afford the solicitor and court proceeding fees.

To assist even more mediation can be funded by legal aid. Following the recently sad news of the closure of Bristol Family Mediation in June there has been a shortage of mediation services that offer legal aid in Bristol. But now we have some good news; Frances is now working with an organisation in Swindon who can provide legally aided mediation in Bristol.

At Progressive Mediation we don’t offer a legally aided service, but at Progressive Mediation we will assess you to see if you are eligible for legal aid and if you are eligible we can refer you to the legally aided service.

More Information

If you are interested in some further information about the costs of divorce and separation then please read our Factsheet 4 – Costs of Divorce & Separation.

Please do not hesitate to contact us today on 0117 924 3880, if you think our service could help you.

Sad News – Bristol Family Mediation Closed

bristol family mediation logo - now charity is closed

After more than 30 years in operation leading mediation charity, Bristol Family Mediation has been forced to close its doors as a result of mounting debts.

Bristol Family Mediation was the first family mediation service set up in the UK and it pioneered the use of mediation to help resolve family disputes rather than through the courts at a time when it was unheard of and unrecognised.

BFM has struggled since cuts to legal aid for solicitors came into effect last April. Although the government’s aim was to encourage more people to try the mediation process the cuts caused a steep dip in referrals to the charity, as people did not realise that legally aided mediation was still available.

Lib Dem Justice Minister Simon Hughes met with family mediators in Bristol just a few weeks ago in an effort to try and promote mediation as a first port of call for separating couples.This April the government made it compulsory for all separating and divorcing couples to meet with mediators before using the courts. Sadly the law change has come too late for this venerable Bristol institution.

It is ironic that Bristol Family Mediation has had to close at a time when mediation is finally becoming a mainstream option for separating and divorcing couples.

Progressive Mediation has had a long standing relationship with Bristol Family Mediation, with Frances working for them for many years on a part time basis, and we would encourage anyone considering mediation to call us. We do not have a contract to provide legally aided mediation however we are supporting the transition of both existing and potential clients, who are eligible for legal aid, to another mediation service holding a contract with the Legal Aid Agency.

Until this transition takes place within the next few weeks, we will try and help anyone who wants to talk to someone generally about mediation, and if they are not eligible for legal aid, we can make an appointment to see them.

 

Mediation Fact Sheets – Useful Information for Separating Couples

As mediators we cannot give anyone advice, but we can provide people with a lot of useful information based on research and our extensive experience as a solicitor (Frances), working for Cafcass (Charles) and as mediators. We can provide you with, for instance, information about the divorce process, about factors the court will take into account when making orders, the effects of separation on children, about how to communicate better as parents.

To help you access this information easily we have written a number of fact sheets that you can find on our website here, along with  our other mediation resources. We hope you find them useful.