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Separated Parents Information Programme

A rallying cry has been issued to all professionals working with family breakdown by the CEO of England and Wales’ largest provider of family mediation.

National Family Mediation’s Jane Robey says the Separated Parents Information Programme (SPIP) is an incredibly influential tool, helping those who attend to learn more about the challenges of post-separation parenting, with a particular focus on the perspective and needs of their children.

In a new article for Family Law, she explains how the SPIP works, and outlines its many benefits.

“It’s true to say that participants often find the prospect of attending an inconvenient nuisance at first,” she says, “but most who attend say they find it very helpful.”

She explains that the aim of the SPIP is to help separated parents:

  • Look at the journey they are on
  • Focus on what children feel and need
  • Focus on moving forward, and next steps

“The aim is to ensure adults put their children first when they are separating, despite what is often an ongoing dispute with their ex. It helps equip them with key principles of managing conflict and difficulties, including how to put these into practice in their own unique situation. It empowers participants to help themselves and, crucially, to help their kids.

“Time and again we hear parents say ‘if only we had known about this sooner’.”

She concludes with a rallying call to all those working in family breakdown “to act sooner rather than later. Help the families you work with achieve better outcomes for themselves and their children. Think ‘Mediation’ and ‘SPIP’ first, not last as is too often the case with the court process.

“This way we can help more families resolve their separation more quickly and amicably – and prevent the revolving door of contact applications to court.”

You can read the article in full here 

Expanding NFM’s team of trainers

With growing demand  for its unrivalled training programme, National Family Mediation (NFM) is looking to add to its team of professional trainers.

If you are a family mediator and are interested in delivering training for NFM, please get in touch. In the first instance please contact general@nfm.org.uk to request an informal discussion with NFM’s CEO, Jane Robey.

For more information about the range of training courses NFM currently offers, use this link.

NFM recruiting mediators (Birmingham area)

National Family Mediation is looking to recruit Family Mediation Council Accredited mediators to help meet increasing demand in the Birmingham area.

If you are interested in joining NFM’s expanding team, please get in touch by email in the first instance to general@nfm.org.uk

President of the Family Division launches public and private law consultation

A new consultation has opened relating to children cases in family courts, with a submission closing date of 30 September 2019.

In Autumn 2018 the President of the Family Division, and Patron of National Family Mediation, Sir Andrew McFarlane, established two cross-professional Working Groups, to look at practices and processes in public and private law.

The Interim Reports of both these Working Groups are now available and are open for consultation.

National Family Mediation will be responding to the consultation, drawing together views from members across its professional family mediation network.

To read more, and to respond, use this link: Consultation: Children Cases in the Family Court – Interim Proposals for Reform

Several years away from return to pre-LASPO mediation levels

Commenting on new legal aid statistics from the Ministry of Justice, covering the first quarter of 2019, which show a small rise in mediation information and assessment meetings and mediation starts, Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation said:

“These latest figures are very disappointing. It’s true they show MIAMs and mediation starts have risen slightly, but however you look at it, nine per cent of a low starting figure is a small figure.

“Time will tell if this upwards trajectory is sustained, but at this rate we are several years away from a return of mediation take-up to pre-LASPO levels – let alone seeing any positive new growth.

“One thing that would definitely help accelerate mediation levels is active promotion by government.

“Ministers need to make a renewed push on promoting family mediation if they seriously want the figures to rise.”

The full statistics can be found using this link

Divorce legislation successfully passes second reading

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill passed its second reading in The House of Commons on 25 June 2019, without a division. The next stage is for it to be considered in detail by a Public Bill Committee.

Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said: “The successful second reading of this important Bill reinforces broad agreement that it is high time for the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce.

“Our primary concern remains for quick progress of the Bill through Parliament.

“As the leading provider of family mediation in England and Wales, our experience is that couples who, for whatever reason, have decided to separate just want to get on with it and make a fresh start.

“The current legal requirement for someone to show ‘fault’ to make a divorce happen fuels bad feeling between a couple. It means relatively simple cases between couples all too easily escalate to full-blown courtroom battles, which help nobody, least of all the children.

“It feels that the government is at last taking vital steps to help parents settle their divorce or separation in a more mature and adult fashion than the current system allows.”

Why another big promotional push is needed

It is high time for a big promotional push from central government to improve the take-up of family mediation, says England and Wales’ leading provider.

In a new article for Family Law, Jane Robey (CEO of National Family Mediation) explains how a major obstacle to increasing numbers of people benefiting from mediation is a lack of widespread awareness of the many advantages of the process.

Whilst the Ministry of Justice spent money on 2015’s targeted ‘Family Mediation First’ campaign, she says one big push every five to ten years will not be effective, and explains exactly why.

She wants to see a number of things driven from the centre, including:

  • Active promotion of the availability of legal aid for family mediation, which would also assist the advice sector
  • A focus in the family courts on promoting and supporting mediation
  • Measures to make it easier for people to find accredited mediators in their area.

Acknowledging money would need to be spent, she concludes: “If Ministers still need convincing, they only need to look again at figures showing the £48 billion annual cost to the UK economy of badly managed family breakdown. That’s £1,820 each per year for every taxpayer.

“I believe that a little investment in informing people about how they can save stress, time and money by undertaking a non-confrontational settlement process would truly pay dividends. It would be well worth the relatively modest investment required.”

You can read the article in full here

Divorce legislation introduced to Parliament

Welcoming the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which had its first reading on 13 June, Jane Robey, CEO of National Family Mediation, said:

“National Family Mediation has long campaigned for the introduction of ‘no fault’ divorce, so we are pleased to finally see legislation introduced into Parliament.

“Over recent years the campaign has gathered huge momentum, to such an extent that there is wide consensus about the need for law change. It’s not easy to find those people who disagree with the policy change.

“Our main concern now is that progress of the Bill through Parliament is swift.

“Ministers must move quickly ensure that the tens of thousands of couples who will divorce in the coming months and years are able to get on with it relatively painlessly.

“For each and every adult involved, the stress, time and expense involved is staggering, and this vital change should help many more parents settle their divorce or separation in a more mature and adult fashion than the current system allows.”

Sort a summer holiday parenting plan now!

Start looking ahead to the school summer holiday now!

And make suitable parenting plans well in advance, in May or June. That’s the recommendation made by National Family Mediation CEO, Jane Robey.

In the latest of her regular articles for Family Law, she explains why.

Her article outlines how a Parenting Plan works, and how flexible it can be. That’s important because as children grow up their needs change. Therefore, her advice to separated parents is to take some time right now. That way they can head off last-minute summer panic.

A number of factors force separated couples into crisis during the summer, including

  • changes in established daily routines, and
  • the expense of keeping family members entertained.

Pick-up, drop-offs and living arrangements can be exposed as inadequate in the long holiday period. Frustrations and resentments resurface, with children caught in the middle.

A Parenting Plan, agreed by both parents and with flexibility built in, is easier to achieve than many people think.

It’s an agreement made by separated parents, covering how the children will be supported and cared for after separation or divorce. It’s easier to agree a Plan between the two of you than many people think. Its value is that you both tailor it to suit your own circumstances.

Read the article in full here

UK’s EU divorce must not delay ‘no fault’ law

Arguments about the process underpinning the UK’s ‘divorce’ from the European Union must not be allowed to delay new ‘no fault divorce’ laws that would make it easier for couples to divorce. So says the largest provider of post-divorce solutions on parenting, money and property.

National Family Mediation fears the changes could become another victim of Brexit, while Parliamentarians struggle to agree terms of the UK’s ‘divorce’ from the EU.

Ministers have announced plans to legislate to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce, yet The Ministry of Justice has confirmed it will only happen “as soon as Parliamentary time allows”.

No fault divorce

National Family Mediation CEO, Jane Robey, says: “Plans to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce are very welcome, and long overdue. But our fear is they will become still more overdue as a result of the Parliamentary timetable being log-jammed, ironically by the UK’s own divorce – from the EU.

“Brexit delays must not be allowed to stop tens of thousands of couples who want to divorce being able to get on with it relatively painlessly, now that Ministers have set out plans to change the law.

“The current legal need to prove a spouse’s ‘unreasonable behaviour’ fuels bad feeling between a couple. Our experience is that couples who, for whatever reason, have decided to separate just want to get on with it and make a fresh start. Yet current laws where someone has to tick a box to show ‘fault’ mean cases that should be relatively simple instead escalate to full-blown courtroom battles, which help nobody – least of all the children involved.

“For each and every adult involved, the stress, time and expense involved is staggering, and this vital change should help many more parents settle their divorce or separation in a more mature and adult fashion than the current system allows.”

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