Traditionally the beginning of a new year is often a busy time for family solicitors receiving a spike in new divorce enquiries. Christmas can prove to be one stress too many for some couples, with online divorce applications even logged during the festive season. What the 24-hour online facility does not do is to consider the many thousands of children who are affected by their parent’s breakdown.
With the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation bill proposed in the Queen’s Speech in December 2019, there is hope that in 2020 ‘no-fault’ divorce legislation will allow couples to file for divorce without needing to make damaging allegations about their spouse’s behaviour to justify the end of their marriage. These accusations can have long-term effects both on the couple and on their children.
When a marriage breaks down, family mediation can be an invaluable tool to enable couples to not only think about how they can separate and divorce as amicably as possible, but also how best to consider the needs of their children.
Mediation can help parents consider what they are going to tell the children about their separation and how best they can consider their children’s needs to ensure that they remain feeling loved and able to have a positive relationship with both their parents. Some mediators are also able to meet children to enable them to talk about their thoughts and feelings in a confidential environment.
Rebecca Eels, Senior Associate in Stone King’s Family and Mediation Team, is a trained mediator and mediator supervisor and is trained to speak to children in the mediation process, where appropriate and agreed. She is also a Resolution Accredited Specialist.
Rebecca says: “The mediation process is voluntary and a mediator will always be impartial. Their role is to encourage the couple to focus on making decisions amicably both in relation to their children but also their finances. At what can be a very difficult and draining time, mediation can really help to bring about the best outcome for the whole family.”
Rebecca is also trained in collaborative law and sits on the board of the Family Mediators Association and is a Family Law panel member of the Law Society.
Family Mediation Week takes place from 20 to 24 January 2020, and Stone King is offering free half hour information sessions about mediation throughout the week. These sessions must be pre-booked.