Written by Jane Robey, Chief Executive, NFM
This month thousands of couples across the country discovered that the Christmas holiday had been the last straw for their failing relationship, and decided to call time on their marriage. But what do they do next?
Even if we haven’t experienced it personally, we all know someone who’s been through a divorce. We’ve seen the impact on the emotions of the separating couple but also more importantly, the lasting effect it can have if children are involved.
When a couple separates there are vital parenting arrangements to be sorted: where the children will live; when they’ll see the other parent; their education; maintenance and child support; holiday arrangements; what happens to the pet, and more besides. If they’re handled badly the repercussions last years and span generations.
Then there are material things: what happens to property, finance, debts and pensions? The process can deteriorate into a destructive, competitive and litigious contest as couples adopt the traditional ‘mindset’ of divorce.
This sees them head straight off to a solicitor and the court room for what’s usually a long, drawn out battle as they seek to score a ‘victory’ over their ex.
It can last months, if not years, and can cost the earth. And then finally, when the court delivers its verdict, the arrangements rarely suit anyone’s interests, least of all the children. The one person in the court room who knows hardly anything about the family – the judge – decides everyone’s future.
Separating couples are often completely unaware there is a simpler way to settle things – a way that keeps them in the driving seat, influencing and controlling the outcomes, rather than having the outcomes imposed upon them.
Family mediation does not try to keep couples together. It’s not counselling. Mediation accepts that change happens in our lives and, instead of dwelling on what might have been, it helps everyone involved move forward to the next stages of their lives – apart –in a positive way.