Resolving disputes for friends and family

Relatives can be deeply affected by the breakdown of a family close to them. This can be particularly true for grandparents who might be concerned about the implications for their grandchildren, and their future relationship with them, but the impact on other family members or friends can be far reaching as well.

Being supportive to a family member going through separation or divorce is crucial. Often the best thing you can do is just listen, but if their distress is worrying you, you might need to help them arrange counselling or to see a GP. There may be many practical things you can do to help, especially in the early stages, such as offering extra help with the children or a temporary place to stay, if your relative has left the family home.

You may be asked your advice about some of the difficult decisions the family has to make about where the children will live and whether the family home should be sold. Sometimes, when communication between ex-partners has broken down, it is tempting to try and act as a go-between. However, the nature of families means you are likely to be considered as on the ‘side’ of one of the ex-partners, even if this is not what you intended. Getting too involved runs the risk that you might increase the conflict rather than resolve it.

One of the most important things family members can do is realise when impartial outside help, such as family mediation, might be needed. Mediators do not take sides, but give both ex-partners a chance to be heard and discuss solutions that work for the whole family. They help them build up plans that can include the role of extended families in the lives of children who may have new living arrangements. It is also a much cheaper option than going to a solicitor.

Read more about reaching and resolving disputes for parents, separating couples and those involving children.

National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family

If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.

All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.

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