National Family Mediation is preparing for an annual surge in enquiries from couples in conflict looking to discuss child arrangements over the Mother’s Day weekend, and ahead of the Easter Holidays.
Every March families across the country come together in celebration of all of the mums and mother figures for all of their hard work throughout the year, and to show their appreciation.
But according to National Family Mediation (NFM), for those who are separated from their partners, it can also be a difficult and upsetting time. Especially if it falls on a weekend when their ex is due to have the kids.
The charity, which helps families to sort arrangements for children, property, finance and other important matters, says issues relating to a lack of communication and compromise between separating and divorcing couples in relation to child arrangements often arise around national holidays.
Jane Robey, CEO at NFM, comments: “Many parents who are separated or divorced enter March in combative mode, with both Mother’s Day and the Easter holidays just around the corner. Both occasions can be a real bone of contention, especially if the celebrations fall on a weekend when one or other parent doesn’t have the kids.
“The same can also be said for both paternal and maternal grandparents, as many people do see these sorts of national holidays as a family affair.”
Jane added: “We’re used to dealing with difficult topics in mediation. The range of issues that we deal with are emotive, and tensions inevitably run high. However, this is particularly true with cases involving children, and especially around national holidays such as Mother’s Day, and ahead of school holidays.
“Our role is to encourage both parties to find a solution that works for all, and that places the needs and the wellbeing of the children at the heart of the matter.
Jane says this includes encouraging parents to be flexible, be reasonable, and to be genuine.
She adds: “As soon as people start to argue over who has the kids on what days, you can guarantee that the word ‘Court’ will start to get thrown around. But that is rarely the right solution. It’s costly, it takes forever for a hearing to take place, and you can likely kiss goodbye to any future good will or compromise.
“Instead, my advice for people who find themselves in conflict over a change in dates around things such as Mother’s Day, is to be flexible, be reasonable, be genuine and to put the children first.”
“Firstly, remember that if mum is separated from her partner, they may not necessarily be able to spend Mother’s Day with their children if their parenting plan doesn’t allow for any flexibility and the day falls on her ex’s allocated weekend. However, the same can also be said for Father’s Day, Christmas, Easter and any other date when a family would have come together to celebrate.
“It’s therefore usually in the best interests of both parties to agree some wiggle room that will ultimately benefit everyone – especially the children!”
Jane adds that’s it’s important for both parties to be reasonable in their negotiations. “Compromise is key in these situations. Rather than demanding the whole weekend, you may find your ex is more open to an hour or so to enjoy a special brunch or lunch.
“In addition, if you are going to request a change to the pre-agreed parenting schedule, make sure it’s something you really do want.
“Often, we work with couples who say their ex has a habit of chopping and changing dates just to start an argument. Planning well in advance and being genuine about each request will help to keep things amicable.”
Finally, Jane says it’s really important to always put the kids first.
“Everyone would like to think that they only act in the best interests of the children, but when tensions are running high it can be difficult to lose sight of what is right.
“You might be angry or upset with your ex, but if your kids want to see their step-mum or grandma this Mother’s Day consider the impact it will have on them if you dig your heels in. If you do find that you can’t agree without support, mediation can help, and is accessible quickly.
“Currently couples wanting to discuss children matters can also access the Family Mediation Voucher Scheme, which is worth up to £500, so it really is a great, cost effective solution for all.”
NFM is a not-for-profit family mediation provider which has a national network of affiliated members, which collectively delivers family mediation in over 500 locations across England and Wales, delivering some 16,000 mediations per year.
Mediation reduces the conflict in separation, divorce or dissolution of civil partnership. It is also more cost-effective and quicker than using lawyers to negotiate, or using the court process. It also enables people to make their own arrangements for children, property and finance. NFM’s affiliate network of mediators are trained in all aspects of family law.