Tag Archives: mediation

How to Get the Most out of your Mediation Sessions

Making the best use of mediation

Mediation is of its nature generally quicker, cheaper and more effective than litigation as a way of resolving disputes.  Our rates at Progressive Mediation are we believe the best available in the Bristol area. But to make the best use of your mediation sessions you need to be well prepared. Here are our top tips for preparing for mediation.

Be honest

The breakdown of an intimate relationship typically involves deceit and consequent mistrust. Dealing with the consequences effectively and fairly requires honesty. Divorce law requires a full and frank disclosure of all relevant financial information and we believe this is usually a necessary preliminary step for unmarried separating couples as well. Mediation work best if you are honest and straightforward about future plans. Then both of you can see how it may be possible for each of you to move forward, and to use the resources you have available in an effective and fair way. Where children are concerned, honesty in respect of new partners and any plans to relocate is essential. Separating partners are often extraordinarily anxious and suspicious about each other’s plans and intentions. Mediation provides an opportunity for you to reassure one another and to begin to build a platform of trust in respect of your future, separate life.

Obtain all the relevant information

If there are financial issues to be determined make sure that you have all the evidence needed for a full and frank disclosure of relevant financial information in particular you are likely to need:

  1. Evidence of the value of major assets, the family home and any other property, vehicles, any other items worth £500 or more and the cash equivalent value of all pensions. Most of this information can be obtained from e.g. estate agents, online services, pension providers without charge. But it is necessary particularly in cases involving divorce.
  2. Bank statements, payslips, evidence of self-employed or other income will also need to be shared and exchanged in mediation. Assembling all this information is a tedious but essential task. It will greatly assist the mediation process if you can bring three copies of all documentary evidence of relevant financial information to your mediation session; one for your ex, one for the mediators, and one to retain for yourself.

Take professional advice

As mediators we cannot advise you. We can give you information and ideas as to what others have done in similar situations but our commitment to impartiality prevents us from advising you what is best for you.  These days of course there is a large amount of information available online, much of which is helpful. Family and friends can be important sources of help and support during the separation process. But we believe that at a time when it is necessary that you make difficult decisions affecting you and your family’s future, it is worthwhile to obtain specific advice, informed by the facts of your circumstances in respect of the merits and drawbacks for you of options that are being considered in mediation, and indeed the implications and costs of not achieving agreement in mediation.

Have faith in mediation

The issues that confront you as separating partners, spouses and all parents are best resolved by you. Agreements reached in mediation are proven to be more enduring than those imposed by a court. You need to be willing to bring issues to mediation; not to act unilaterally, whether that is in respect of the purchase or sale of significant assets, the commitment of income in other ways, or parenting decisions, for example about moving home, schools, holidays, the introduction of a new partner to the children. Our rule is that once you have decided to enter mediation, if there are any significant financial or parenting’s decisions to be made always consider first raising them in mediation.  At Progressive Mediation we are always available between mediation sessions to discuss matters of this kind individually and in confidence.

Mediation is about dealing with the issues that need to be dealt with in a way that allows both of you to move on with your lives but you do need first to mediate the relevant financial and parenting issues then you will be able to move on confidently and independently to the next phase of your life.

Parenting Plan

Before you complete the plan, remember that each child’s needs (even that of siblings) are different and that they should be consulted (age appropriate of course) and their views and feelings taken into account. As such, it is essential to prepare separate plans for each child.

A Parenting Plan should not be set in stone. Situations change, children grow up, parents find new partners and may shave responsibility for other children. Think about what the future may hold and try to build change into the plan. At the very least, make the provision to change and alter the plan when necessary.

Download our Parenting Plan Download

The questions are:

About the child

  • Child’s name
  • Also known as
  • Date of birth
  • Names of significant persons (grandparents, absent parents etc)

Living arrangements

  • The child/ren will mostly live
  • At, With
  • What will be the day-to-day contact arrangements? (how will they spend time with each of you?)
  • How will they travel between the different addresses?
  • (who will be responsible for the travel arrangements and costs?)
  • What will be the arrangements for postponed visits?
  • (who will tell the children and how will another visit be arranged)
  • How will the children contact their absent parent
  • (will they have their own mobile/e-mail address? Who will pay the bills?)
  • What are the agreed house rules?
  • (rules and discipline for the children should be agreed especially bed times, smoking, lateness etc)
  • Who can look after the children if the parent is not there?

Staying contact (overnight stays)

  • Who can the child/ren contact?
  • (are there friends or family members they should not contact?)
  • What will be the arrangements for special days?
  • (birthdays, religious festivals, family parties and events etc?)

Religious and cultural upbringing

  • What are the arrangements for the continuing of a particular faith or cultural tradition?
  • Are other significant people involved? Do they need to be with the child/ren at particular ceremonies or events?
  • will your child/ren need to speak another language? How will they continue to develop this?

School life

  • Who will tell the school about the changes?
  • How will the absent parent keep in touch with school? Receive school reports? Attend school events?
  • How will you discuss changes of school?
  • How will you make choices of schools for your children?
  • How will you discuss important choices?
  • (selection of courses, health education, careers, school trips, out of hours activities and payments)
  • How will you maintain your child/ren’s out of school activities or hobbies when they are away from their main home?

Holidays

  • How will you divide the time?
  • Can you both take them on holiday?
  • (out of the country, on activity holidays, with other people etc?)

Health

  • Who will be responsible for routine arrangements and appointments?
  • What will be the arrangements to share information?
  • (allergies, regular medication, informing one another about hospital visits or emergencies?)
  • What will be the agreed procedure if one of the parents are ill or cannot look after your child/ren?

Other arrangements

  • family pets
  • learning to drive
  • Saturday jobs/paper rounds
  • future changes
  • new adult relationships (how will you tell the child/ren?)
  • moving home (especially if you are moving out of the area).
  • how will you negotiate changes to the parenting plan?