Category Archives: News and information

A Step Closer to No-Fault Divorce

The UK Government has been planning the reform of the current divorce process for some time now. We first wrote about this in June 2019. The biggest change is to remove the necessity for either or both parties to claim a ‘fault’ with the other if they wish to divorce.

The current process has often been dubbed the “blame game” divorce and has been heavily criticised for years for the antagonism it causes between separating couples and their children.

What Will the new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act Mean?

  • No Blame Game – The current requirement to evidence either a conduct or separation ‘fact’ with the provision of a statement of either adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour will not be necessary.
  • Give Notice Jointly – Couples will for the first time be able to make a joint statement on the breakdown of the marriage. This replaces the necessity for one party to ‘petition’ and the other ‘respond’ which makes the process more lengthy and appear that one party is actioning the process without the consent of the other.
  • No Mutual Agreement Required – The new divorce process will also negate the necessity for mutual agreement of both parties on the divorce or any aspect of it. The opportunity to contest the decision to divorce will be removed, as a statement will be conclusive evidence that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.
  • Faster Process – A new minimum period of 20 weeks will be introduced from the start of proceedings to confirm to the court that a conditional order of divorce may be made. This will allow greater opportunity for couples to agree practical arrangements for the future where reconciliation has not been possible and a divorce is inevitable. The existing law created a very long drawn out process for couples who did not want to apportion blame: Separation of more than two years (if spouse agrees to the divorce) or a separation of at least five years (if spouse disagrees with the divorce).

The new laws will reduce conflict and the damaging effect this has on all parties including the children. The aim is to align the divorce law process with the government’s approach elsewhere in family law – which is to encourage a forward-looking non-confrontational approach wherever possible.

Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Rt Hon Robert Buckland QC MP said:

“The institution of marriage will always be upheld, but when divorce cannot be avoided the law should not exacerbate conflict and harm a child’s upbringing.

These new laws will stop separating couples having to make needless allegations against one another, and instead help them focus on resolving their issues amicably.”

When will the New Divorce Law Be Passed?

Whilst significant progress has been made and the proposed legislation to remove fault has passed through the House of Commons (17th June 2020). It must still return to the House of Lords before receiving Royal assent. The current proposed implementation period is for the Autumn of 2021.  

So, unfortunately if you are hoping to be able to proceed with a ‘no fault’ divorce, you will have to wait until the end of next year.

Always Putting the Children First

Here at Progressive Mediation we are overjoyed to see the bill go through the first part of its parliamentary journey. As family mediators we know only too well the heartache and conflict that can be caused during a marriage breakdown with the divorce law only increasing that discord.  Every effort should be made at all stages of separation to keep the lines of communication open between parents so that they can make the best decisions for their children together.

Do You Need Mediation To Resolve Divorce Conflict?

We are experienced family mediators and can provide MIAMs and family mediation sessions via Skype, Zoom and video conferencing. If you would like to find out more, please call us on 0788 903 9393 and we will advise you on the best course of action for your circumstances.

How Families Can Survive the Covid-19 Lockdown

As we go into April 2020, families across the UK and indeed the world find themselves in uncharted waters as the lockdown continues. Our worlds have all been turned upside down as we batten down the hatches to wait for new developments on this global pandemic Covid-19. Parents across the nation are facing new challenges as they juggle home schooling, working from home or perhaps a complete loss of income. These new pressures have been applied over the space of a couple of weeks with no warning and the uncertainty stretches ahead with no definite end date. Fears about putting food on the table, paying the rent and the welfare of family members who live elsewhere are all compounded as our four walls become our only vista.

We Are All in this Together

At a time when we are told “We are all in this together”, for some, this could not feel further from the truth as relationships become strained with these new challenges at home. It is important to remember that the lockdown reality is a different experience for everyone. A family with four children stuck in a flat with no outside space will endure hardships and challenges far beyond that of a family in suburbia with a large garden. People’s financial situations are changing on a daily basis too, with businesses closing temporarily across the nation and the streets becoming eerily quiet.

So What Can We Do to Ride the Storm and Stay Sane?

We are lucky enough in this country to live in an era of advanced technology, with instant access to information and online communication possible for most. Our televisions and news feeds are swamped with ‘helpful’ advice on how we should all be managing this, but this can be overwhelming and unrealistic advice for a lot of people.

We know we should all be forming a routine, keeping fit from the front room and schooling our children with the patience of Mary Poppins. The reality of the past two weeks is that we may have all started with the best of intentions; beginning the day with a Joe Wicks work out with the kids at 9am (love him or hate him!), followed by a couple of hours of school work. Most of us are not teachers and the daunting task of solving a year 9 maths problem with a bored teen, whilst a younger sibling is firing nerf bullets at your head, have certainly worn a little thin. For some, you may be attempting to work from home too or perhaps your partner is a keyworker working long shifts on the front line. We all hold the fear that we or someone close to us will contract the virus and become very ill.

So, the point of this post is not to give you advice on the practical side of our situation, we feel sure you have had plenty of that. One of the key things we want to get across is the importance of nurturing and maintaining relationships, particularly with your children.

Communication – Listening to your Children

Whatever age your children are, if they are living with you or not, they need your listening ear and your patience now more than ever. Don’t make them feel like they are the problem, that they are reason everything is going wrong. Make the time to listen to them, allow them to express their fears and worries, answer their questions with a balance between sharing the facts without frightening them and explain things in a way that is appropriate for their age. This is not the time to enforce a new set of rules or devise punishments around their behaviour.

Children Aged 4 and Under

For younger children, aged 4 and under, there will be limited understanding of what is happening and why you are all at home. However, they will certainly pick up on atmosphere, your worries or frustrations over work and money will filter through to them and will cause confusion and emotions they don’t understand. There could be a tendency to play up or do naughty things to gain your attention, particularly if you are trying to focus on work and constantly shushing them whilst you are on the phone. They will miss the interactions with their peers at nursery and the trips to the park to meet with friends that are now out of the question. You may see increased tantrums in your children this age and the way that you deal with this must be with increased patience and understanding. Do not react with anger or shouting.

Children Aged 5 to 11

Children between the ages of 5 and 11 years old, will have more of a grasp on the situation, but with the increased understanding comes more likelihood of anxiety and worry. Children this age will miss their school friends and the routine of the school day. At the start of this, they may well have been excited by the prospect of school being closed but after a week or two this will have been replaced with loneliness and boredom. This age group will be likely to worry that a parent or a family member will catch Coronavirus and die, they will want to ask questions about death and may have fears over their own mortality.

Teenagers 12 to 18 Years

Teenagers may become more withdrawn and should be coaxed to join in with family games or activities, even if it is just helping to cook the dinner. If they just stay in their rooms glued to social media and screens they could become withdrawn and depressed.

For many teens they are also going through the added upheaval of having their exams cancelled. GCSE, AS Level and A level exams will now not be taking place leaving many feeling directionless for the next 5 months. Results will be based on a combination of coursework, mock results and expected grades. This age group will also be missing their mates; the get togethers, parties and outings that they would usually be enjoying.

Take the time to sit with them and talk about anything they want to, help them with school work that has been set and encourage them to focus on that for part of each day.

The Importance of Routine and Structure

Children of all ages thrive and manage the best when they have a structure to their day, this is purely so they know what is coming next. Whilst you will not be able to keep as tight a structure as a full school timetable, doing the same things at certain times of the day will help. At the time of writing this we are all still permitted some time out of the house for exercise with household members. This can be built into the routine and proves to be very beneficial for everyone’s mental health including the parents. Going on a walk after lunch as a family can help to blow the cobwebs away and get everyone off their screens.

Staying in Touch With Family and Friends

Children will find it comforting to stay in touch with Grandparents, other family members and carers with calls or video calls. You can make this regular and even play simple games together by setting up a video call with a board game or card game. Remember that this is also very important for grandparents too, who are most likely more restricted in their movements than others. Older children should be encouraged to stay in contact with friends and peers with calls rather than just texting.

Birthdays Under Lockdown

There is nothing worse for kids at this time than to have a birthday party cancelled. With a bit of creativity, you can try to help them celebrate; set up a Zoom meeting for them with their friends or perhaps contact parents to get them to send video messages from all their friends. Some people have arranged for all the neighbours to come out of their front doors and sing Happy Birthday at a certain time. Anything you can do to make your child feel they have not been forgotten will help to brighten up their day.

Many parents will also be thinking about rearranging parties for their children to celebrate when we have come out of lockdown. This will give them something to look forward to, buying online vouchers for experiences that can be enjoyed at a later date are also a good idea.

Separated Parents and Children With Two Homes

Many separated parents will be managing this alone with no other adult on hand to ease the burden. Some who practise shared parenting schedules may have found these routines have been disrupted by the current circumstances. This will be very hard on the children if their routine of seeing both parents is broken. Encouraging contact with the other parent is vital for your children’s mental well-being. This is not the time to take out anger and frustration on your ex and refuse them this access.

If you are managing to keep the children moving between the two houses, the communication between you as parents is all the more important. School work and books will need to be transferred and for younger children each parent will need to know where they have got to in the schedule of set work.

Practising Patience

Whilst we are all cooped up together, it is easy to let tempers fray and frustrations get the better of us. Practising patience is probably the thing that will hold families together; find empathy for other family members or children and try to see that their behaviour might be due to the stress and uncertainty of the situation rather than just belligerence.

A moody and sullen teenager may be experiencing real emotional difficulties from being separated from a boyfriend or best friend, rather than just being ‘difficult’. A tantruming toddler will be confused by the change in routine and the tension in the house over money – be patient and be kind.

Families come in all shapes and sizes these days, with stepfathers and mothers parenting children with half brothers and sisters. Of course, there will be tensions at times, but try to stop and practise a pause before you react to something. Respect everyone’s own space, so if someone needs some alone time they can have it.

See the Positives

As hard as it may be during these difficult times, try to see the positives that these circumstances have brought us. Yes you will have financial worries, but if you are a parent who is usually at work all the time, see the positives that you can spend this time at home focusing on and getting to know your children better. You will never have had so much time to do things with them and help them with their schoolwork. If your children are pre-school age you can make the most of having creative play time with them. But this is not to say that you need to try to do too much, be kind to yourself too, don’t put to much pressure on yourself to make everything perfect or teach them as well as their real teacher would.

What they will remember from this time is how they felt. Did they feel a loving connection with you? Did they feel heard and understood? Did you all have fun and laugh together as a family?

Focus on what you can do together and not on what you can’t do.

Online Mediation Services

As professional mediators we understand the extra pressure on families and separated parents at this difficult time. Our mediation services are still available and we can conduct MIAMs and mediation via video link, Skype, Zoom and Whatsapp. If you are having difficulties in resolving differences on your separation or arrangements for children, then please do give us a call to find out how we can help you. Call Frances on 07889 039393 today.

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.

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

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.

Father’s Day – How can this be handled for separated Parents?

Father’s Day is on the 18th June this year (2017), this can be difficult for separated couples to manage and possibly distressing for the children if the situation isn’t handled well. Here are some top tips to keep everyone happy and ensure in particular that the children don’t suffer:

Continue reading Father’s Day – How can this be handled for separated Parents?

Family Mediation Week 2017 – 23-27 January

This year Family Mediation Week is the 23rd to the 27th January (2017). The aim is to raise awareness of how mediation can help separating families resolve their issues in a collaborative way. January is often a time for reflection and new beginnings and this can mean couples realising their differences cannot be overcome and so decide to separate. Sometimes families have already decided to split but want to wait until after Christmas so as not to disrupt the family festivities where children are involved.

Continue reading Family Mediation Week 2017 – 23-27 January

Family Mediation Week 2016

January is often described as Divorce Month, and the Monday of the first full working week back after the holidays is often referred to as Divorce Day. One national family law firm says referrals in January are usually more than 27% up on an average month. It seems some people make appointments in December, planning to spend one last Christmas together, while others may have had a bad time over the holidays and realised that their relationship is at an end. Continue reading Family Mediation Week 2016

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

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?

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.

Children’s Arrangements

Children’s Arrangements and the Children and Families Act 2014

We are sometimes surprised by how many separated parents still talk about ‘custody’ and ‘access’. These terms lost any legal currency more than 20 years ago following the 1989 Children Act. This introduced into law the concept of ‘parental responsibility,’ which all mothers, married fathers, and fathers named on the birth certificate (after 2003) now share. Continue reading Children’s Arrangements

Children & Families Act Implemented 22nd April 2014

The Children and Families Act will be implemented on 22nd April 2014; part of its intention is to promote a wider use of mediation. Anyone wanting to make an application to the court to sort out arrangements for their children or a financial settlement will first of all have to attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) where they can find out more about mediation and whether it might be a way for them to sort out their dispute.

This morning I and some other Bristol mediators met with Simon Hughes, Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties at the Bristol Court – not a place where we mediators often like to be!  Simon was full of enthusiasm for mediation as a way for couples to resolve disputes quickly, without acrimony and at minimum cost.

He suggests people should first go and see a mediator rather than a solicitor when they separate.  The government, which has been criticised for failing to promote mediation over the last year, will now be focusing on improving awareness of mediation.

If you would like to speak to me about mediation please call 0117 924 3880



January -divorce and separation month

It is a sad fact that many relationships break up in January. Over Christmas, families and couples often spend long periods together, highlighting underlying tensions. Overexcited children, parents in law, too much alcohol and heavy spending don’t help either.

Thinking about separation or divorce is not easy but the New Year is often a time for reflection and new resolutions and so it can feel the right time to take that huge decision to end the relationship.

If you are one of those people contemplating taking this step consider making your first port of call  coming to see us for an assessment to see if family mediation might be a way of helping you separate in a dignified, amicable way; particularly important if you have children who can very easily get caught up in bitter battles between the two of you.

Talk to us; we are available to see you at short notice at a time to suit you, daytime, evenings or weekends.