Separating parents urged to mediate to avoid missed milestones

Voucher scheme provides families with up to £500 to put towards mediation

The last few weeks before the summer holidays can be an exciting time for school children, with many events such as graduation, sports day, school transition days and award presentations planned to mark the end of another academic year and the start of a new journey.

However, it can also be a difficult time for families in conflict, with parents often missing out on key milestones in a bid to avoid coming into contact with their ex-partner.

According to the charity NFM (National Family Mediation), it can also prove particularly tricky for separated couples where one or other has recently met a new partner.

“The latest government data shows that there are around 1.8 million single parents with dependent children in the UK, and that in 2020, around a third (33.5%) of couples who got married, were not getting married for the first time,” says NFM CEO, Sarah Hawkins.

“What that shows is there are a lot of people out there who are doing their best to be a good parent, while also trying to navigate the difficulties that come with divorce and separation.

“While historically mums and dads in this situation might have simply opted out of school events in a bid to ‘keep the peace’, that’s not really a sustainable option for the millions of families who are impacted in this day and age, and who are missing out on really important milestones.

“The government recognises the scale of the problem, and also that the children are significantly impacted by prolonged exposure to conflict. That’s why they have introduced the mediation voucher scheme, so that families can claim up to £500 through the government mediation voucher scheme for matters relating to children.” 

Sarah adds that the majority of people who attend mediation are looking to find a solution that works for all parties.

“Most couples accept that they are unlikely to ever be best buddies with their ex, but they want to find a way in which they can be amicable so that they don’t have to miss out on sports days and graduations, and so that their children can experience having both parents present.

“Each year, there are over 800,000 graduates leaving higher education, 620,000 children entering secondary school, and 568,000 entering primary school – with so many important dates any child would want to have both parents amicable, as well as present.

“Mediation does just that. It’s not about trying to patch things up, it’s about finding the practical solutions and the voucher scheme is available for anyone who is wanting to discuss children matters following a divorce or separation.

“At NFM we also offer access to free child-inclusive mediation, for families wanting to take into consideration the wishes of the children.”

NFM’s professional mediators are highly skilled third-party negotiators with experience in helping families create long-term solutions that work well for their circumstances – including creating a parenting schedule that allows both parents to juggle work commitments, and enjoy quality family time.

In addition to the family mediation voucher scheme, Legal Aid also remains available for family mediation.

To find out more complete our referral form.

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