Sheila Gooderham of The Mediation Specialists will be joining me on the Daybreak programme and Sky News and a big lovely thank you to her for all her help.
Simon Hughes, the Family Justice Minister, told The Times: "Mediation works and we are committed to making sure that more people make use of it, rather than go through the confrontational and stressful experience of going to court."
"When people separate we want them to do it in the least damaging way for everyone involved, especially children. that is why we want them to use the excellent mediation services available to agree a way forward, rather than have one forced upon them."
Where there is evidence of domestic violence, couples will be exempt from the new rules, the Ministry of Justice said.
What made us both decide to proceed down the mediation route was the love for our children and their welfare. Talking to our children about our impending separation and divorce hit all of us really hard. My Ex and I each saw the fear, pain and confusion in our beloved children's eyes. In order to alleviate the damage to our children, both of us understood that attending mediation could be the only way forward to help us achieve this.
Mediation seemed to be the most compassionate yet logical way to proceed along this potentially fraught path of pain, grief and guilt. We had been recommended mediation by other couples who had been through the process with an amicable outcome. Knowing this gave us confidence in mediation, they were real couples who were still friends and giving their changed family unit the respect it deserved.
We each chose our solicitors who supported the process of mediation. It made sense and we had no wish to fight anymore now that a decision to divorce had been made.
The children just wanted to know that everything was going to be alright and when we functioned as a positive divorcing unit rather than two warring parties their stress levels reduced.
They were very complimentary about our attitude which was helpful and affirmed to us that we had chosen the right path. Both my Ex-Husband and I operate very differently in life and yet we were both confident, trusting and relieved about the process we had chosen which helped us rather than hindered us in this life changing process.
Preparing for mediation involved collecting together our paperwork regarding mortgages, bank statements, pension documents etc. We were also asked for our initial thoughts on where we were going to live, how we would manage co-parenting and financial support that was most beneficial for our children and for us both.
MEDIATION FEAR MONKEYS
They were always going to visit ....
- Would we like and trust our mediators? During separation and divorce you are fearful, wary and vulnerable. There are many people giving you helpful advice; trusting your instincts and having confidence in your mediators is important.
- How scary is it in the mediation room? Yup.... Why scary? This is new, you may not have been through mediation before, neither of you know what to expect or how you are going to react to each other. Especially if either of you are hurting and are angry.
- Can mediation work for you? There was a fleeting moment when my Ex and I Iooked at each other across the table and knew that each of us had decided to be brave and take that leap of faith and trust that is mediation.
- Will it be emotional? Yes, this is a life roller-coaster you are on. Will there be tears? Tissues on the table oh and tea - YES! Mediators really want this to work for you and for your children, they are caring and human.
- Is this the best process for you? Yes, if you have trust in the process and each other. Whether you sign up for the mediation process or court process is up to you. Whichever route you decide upon, be focused and committed.
- How will we feel after a session? My Ex and I were so relieved that it was balanced, calm and simplistic. We gave each other a hug afterwards and thanked each other for being kind. This is a practice we continue after every session. It reaffirms our commitment to our children and to both our futures.
- Mediation payment? We found that attending mediation sessions were far less expensive then meeting with our solicitors and this was important to us. Knowing that our finances would not be so depleted was a comfort, especially during a time when finances are an important part of the present and the future.
Mediation covers legal and financial. It does not cover emotional. It is important to understand that non of us are trained in being divorced or prepared in any way - let alone emotionally. Whilst the future steps on mediation are to be encouraged, it is important that the emotional concerns of divorce are addressed as well
I have a genuine desire to encourage other couples to try mediation with a view to having a mindful and kind divorce.
With love Natasha