New Year alert for family dispute specialists
Family dispute specialists are on New Year alert, as couples across the country make it their new year resolution to end their relationships after a stressful holiday period.
“Christmas often proves the final straw for relationships that have been fragile for some time,” says Jane Robey, the CEO of the charity National Family Mediation.
“Family mediation offers an alternative way to make settlements over money, parenting and property – and can be much better than heading off to a lawyer for a stressful and expensive family court battle.
“Many couples who have decided for sure to separate need more information about their options. It’s important they consider all the possible ways they can make arrangements that are genuinely in the interests of everyone in the family, especially the kids.
“January usually sees a rise in divorce and separation, as relationships that have hung by a thread for some time finally snapped over Christmas.
“So the question is asked: What do we do next? And the answer doesn’t have to be heading off to a lawyer to prepare for battle which they hope ends in ‘victory’ over their ex.
“Family mediators are highly skilled negotiators with experience in helping families create long-term solutions that work well for their particular circumstances.
“Rather than leaving it to a judge to decide who will live where, what happens to the money, debts and pensions, and arrangements for the children, mediation empowers families themselves to decide these things. It’s their future after all.”
Legal Aid remains available for family mediation.
Commenting on ‘Testing Times’, a new Centre for Social Justice report about fatherhood, Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said:
“This report rightly shines a light on the importance of fatherhood in improving childhood outcomes. Whilst it recognises the need to strengthen relationship support services, it doesn’t properly address the importance of fully involving fathers in genuinely shared parenting after separation or divorce.
“Divorce and separation becomes a reality for many thousands of parents every year, and a focus on the value of the father’s role should not be allowed to diminish in these circumstances.
“Sensible agreements over shared parenting duties are often pivotal to the child’s future wellbeing. Our experience shows that people who are prepared to take joint responsibility for the child’s future, and to make parenting agreements on that basis – rather than bowing to the clarion call of litigation – work better together after separation. This brings huge benefits to the child who has initially been caught in the middle of a separation storm. And agreements that help separated parents move forward in relation to finance and property issues help them avoid the poverty trap that litigation encourages.
“We continue to press the government to push the promotion of family mediation up the agenda because ensuring more and more separating couples mediate not litigate will improve the quality of active fatherhood, and childhood outcomes to boot.”
The Centre for Social Justice report can be found in full using this link.
With decorations springing up in High Streets everywhere, anxiety about where children will spend Christmas and the new year is creeping to the forefront of hundreds of separated parents’ minds.
“It’s meant to be the happiest time of the year, but for separated parents in it can be the worst,” says Jane Robey, CEO of the charity National Family Mediation, which helps families reach post-separation agreements on parenting, as well as over property and finance issues.
She says arrangements for the festive period can be settled now by working out a simple parenting plan.
“Parenting arrangements that work well most of the year are often exposed as not fit-for-purpose when the Christmas holidays loom.
“The headache of working out which parent the child sees on which days, and how will they get there, can cause long-standing resentments to resurface, heaping huge additional pressure during an already stressful time of year.
“It’s when supermarkets start playing the festive music, and Christmas trees pop up in shops, that parents who’ve tried not to think about this year’s arrangements find they have no choice. They know that previous settlements, sometimes imposed by divorce courts, no longer work now the child is growing up.
“A parenting plan is a simple tool and is easier to achieve than many people think. Agreed by both parents, it covers how the children will be supported and cared for and is tailored to your own unique family circumstances.
“It’s flexible so can accommodate holiday periods like Christmas and the summer and, crucially, it can be updated as time moves on.
“It can help ensure both separated parents agree arrangements that suit them both and that, crucially, ensure the child has a positive and enjoyable Christmas.”
Parents who want to know more can contact National Family Mediation on 0300 4000 636