Mediation offers a faster, cheaper way to agree the terms of divorce, separation or child contact, avoiding upsetting and expensive court battles; but a lack of awareness and understanding means thousands of people are missing out. Family Mediation Week will spread the awareness of why more separating couples are giving mediation a go and benefiting from the support it gives to the whole family.
At MiD, Family Mediation Week this year is even more important to us. Mediation Services joining together gives us strength in numbers to promote the awareness of the benefits to separating couples to give mediation a try and not head straight to the court room.
One of the most persuasive reasons to give mediation a go is the financial aspect. Separating couples going through the courts will spend on average between £5,000 and £20,000 each. A series of mediation sessions however costs around £1000 – a fraction of the expense and a small price to pay for a positive outcome.
As mediation is one of the few areas still funded by Legal Aid, it is even free for people on the lowest incomes, significantly easing the financial burden for families who are already struggling.
Mediation gives individuals more control over decisions than going to court and can help sort out all practical issues including sharing finances and child arrangements. Sadly, even though the government favours non-dispute resolution for family issues, many people still aren’t aware of mediation, and even more misunderstand its purpose.
“During separation, many people feel anger towards their ex-partner and believe that going to court is the only way to have their say and get the outcome they want.’ Helen Keville a mediator at MiD Mediation explains. “However, separation is not a battle. The court process can be distressing and there are no winners, especially when there are children involved.”
We think of the children
Mediation helps people discuss issues calmly and confidentially, enabling them to address the things that matter to them, and to reach an agreement that works for everyone. Children are often the only common ground left in a failed relationship, so mediation encourages parents to put their children’s needs first, which can be a powerful and positive way to reach a resolution. The success rate is an inspiring 80%, with couples often reaching agreement in just two or three sessions.
But despite the numerous benefits, the Ministry of Justice found that in 2015, just 6% of applicants had attempted mediation before starting court proceedings, and a recent report from Cafcass, the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, found that 30% of the 40,599 private law applications it was involved in last year, had been to court before.
So why aren’t more people choosing to give mediation a go?
“A common misconception is that mediation is a form of counselling”, says Helen Keville “Family mediation is not therapy, nor is it about getting couples back together. When a relationship breaks down, we are here to help people sort out the practical aspects of their separation, such as how often a child should see a parent, or how to divide money or property fairly.”
Another common myth is that mediation is only for married couples or those who have just separated.
“People often come to our services months or even years after their divorce or separation,” says Helen from MiD Mediation. “They may have a new partner, be moving away, or want to change how much time they spend with their children. Whatever the situation, the door to mediation is always open.”
The breakdown of a relationship is one of the most difficult experiences an individual will go through and it is common for couples to find it hard to communicate after separation. Sadly, a court battle can leave everyone involved emotionally and financially drained. Mediation can offer a calmer, cheaper, altogether less distressing way forward.
As 22nd to 26th January 2018 sees The Family Mediators Association run a special awareness campaign, “Family Mediation Week”, services across the country, felt it was the perfect time to highlight the great work they do, and ensure that many more families benefit from their support this year.
The local service in this area is MiD Mediation & Counselling a charity based in Hampton Hill that has been helping families in south west London and Surrey for over thirty years. We help families move forward after divorce/separation via a range of services including mediation, separated parenting courses and child and adult counselling.
Our team of mediators help people find agreement on practical issues such as sharing finances and child arrangements. Our child counselling service is supported by Children in Need and helps children come to terms with the changes in their family and we also provide adult counselling.
For more information please call 020 8891 6860 or go to www.midmediation.org.uk You can find us on Twitter @MiD_mediation and on facebook @Midmediationsurreyandswlondon