All posts by FMA

My thoughts on Family Mediation Week

Thoughts on Family Mediation Week

It hurts to be a child of divorce. I know because I am one. My parents waited until I was an adult to go their separate ways but nevertheless, their separation was still painful, for each member of the family. If such a thing as mediation existed in the nineties, my parents weren’t aware of it. They muddled along and did the best they could, and, as my sister and I were both adults, there was no bitter custody battle to be part of, no screaming arguments to witness. This certainly isn’t the case for many separating families.


When I was approached to provide social media support for the Family Mediation Association’s Mediation Week, I had little understanding of the nature of mediation – including what is involved, that it can be a non-conflict alternative to court proceedings, and that, in some cases, legal aid is still available to pay for it.


There can be very few, if any, of us who haven’t been touched by divorce in some way or another, whether it is our parents, siblings, friends, children or work colleagues. Now that I have a greater understanding of the benefits of mediation, I wonder how many of them might have been spared the doubtless pain and difficulty of the divorce process, had they been able to use mediation.

Watching some of those I love go through divorce what has struck me most has been that it is a destructive process. Literally. Something is being destroyed. Not just a marriage but a family, a home, a way of life, a social circle, and a dream. And I have seen how this process, this ‘uncoupling’ is incredibly painful for everyone, not least children of the separating couple.


In learning more about mediation, I have realised just how devastating divorce must be for children. Not only the logistics of who will live where and how often a child will see his or her absent parent, but also the emotional impact of readjusting to a new ‘family’ life. For me this is one of the major benefits of mediation, that it is child-focused; that the welfare of any children will be the most important consideration in any discussion.  That a mediator will help those involved work towards a final outcome which enables them to find a good working relationship as parents who live apart.


In Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy famously wrote “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Now I am an adult with my own family I understand this to mean that, in order to be happy, a family must be successful in each and every one of a range of criteria e.g. sexual attraction, money issues, parenting, religion, in-laws. Failure on only one of these counts leads to unhappiness, and thus there are more ways for a family to be unhappy than happy. And yet, none of us deserves to be unhappy, particularly our children.


The objective of this week’s campaign has been to raise awareness of mediation, and the role of the mediator. From the material I have worked with I can see the real benefits of mediation in enabling a separating couple, and their children, to achieve a place of happiness more quickly and easily than going through the courts.   Hopefully you can too!


What I should have done…


Written by  Marc from London

Around 5 years ago I embarked on looking to become a co-parent. I joined an online LGTBQ social network called pride angel for finding others looking to co-parent. The site gave options for people who wish to find advice on co-parenting and somewhat like a dating site there were profiles of people looking to become parents, or sperm donors, or all manner of ways in which to have children.

I was specifically looking to co-parent, as I believe where possible it’s good to have two parents who will love and want to raise a child. On the site, which is somewhat more advanced than it was at that time, there was all sorts of advice on how a co-parenting agreement should be made. I met a lady who I felt I had much in common with who was looking to have a child and enter into a co-parenting arrangement.

We spend some time getting to know one another, together with our extended friends and family we put together a co-parenting agreement, cutting a long story short we progressed on trying to have a baby. After a miscarriage with the first pregnancy we immediately started again and a successful pregnancy ensued and 9 months later our son was born.

Almost from our sons birth things changed, the agreement we had made together was not honoured and in the first year I saw my son only 5 times. I tried many times to move things along to no avail and was left with little choice but to enter the court process. It took the best part of two years to get to the place we are now in where my son comes and stays with me and it’s taken me the last year to build a relationship with him. It has been challenging, stressful, acrimonious and very expensive however our son is now 3 and I’m pleased to say I have a good relationship with him.

So what I should have done was to have had mediation from the outset to have a third party help to make the agreement with us. We then could have had it lodged with a solicitor which would have helped should anything have not worked out. The mother and I are now entering into mediation for our son’s sake and are in a much more amicable place. I do feel a third party would have helped to really work out the agreement, perhaps in more detail than we had done and may have found out some of the things I clearly should have known about the lady with whom I was planning to have a child with. In the excitement perhaps of meeting someone willing to co-parent with you, one gets lost in the momentum and in the belief that nothing will go wrong and by taking things at face value we forget that all too often people present the person they want you to think they are, rather than who they really are in order to get the outcome they desire. A mediator could have seen this with real perspective and steered us to make informed decisions before commencing on this lifelong journey of raising a child with someone.

Family Mediation Week 2018, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.

Couples often have a greater sense of empowerment

Written by Alison Tremeer, FMA

When you have completed this journey and mediation has been concluded there is a greater prospect of you being able to look back and value the effort that you both made to find workable solutions that were fair and “child centred”. Couples often have a greater sense of empowerment that comes from keeping control of the important decisions that have to be made for any financial settlement and the arrangements they decide to put in place for their children. Mediation has hopefully helped you both to establish good strategies for how you will co-parent when no longer together and your ability to share information and work together to achieve positive outcomes for your children should have been enhanced by entering the mediation process. You are now able to look forward and having heard each other’s perspective you will be better able to listen and take on board differing views. In this way you are able to compromise and reach agreements that reflect the love and concern that you have for your children. You will also be able to feel proud that you have provided your children with a positive example of how to constructively manage conflict. Your children will benefit from seeing a positive change in that any conflict has been reduced and as parents you are both making decisions that are in their best interest. In this way your children are then free to get on with enjoying their childhood without worrying about you and the grown up issues associated with your separation.

Alison Tremeer. Board member of the FMA

Family Mediation Week 2018, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.

“It all fell apart, when I came along”

Written by Kay, aged 15

When I came along,
it was
almost as if I was a spectator to my own life
almost as if I was never the child
almost as if I was nothing more than a product of a poisoned contract.

Because that’s all it ever was. A piece of paper.
No love to warm their hearts in the ices of winter.
No trust to carry them through the stormy seas.

Or so I thought.

Turns out they were happy.
Turns out they smiled.
And held hands.
And kissed.

Then I came along.

The stars in her eyes had died away,
The smile lines etched on his face turned to frown marks engraved into his increasing pallor.
Their faces grew as grey as their hair.

“It’s not your fault” I must’ve heard a million times more than any kid should.
“They’d been drifting apart for so long now”

But how long, how? Perhaps 15 years?

Because from where I’m standing, from the second I was concieved to the last second that I breathe it will be my fault.

It was always shit for them,
Its more shit for me,
I’m not strong,
Not anymore,
Cant you see?

It all fell apart

When I came along.

Family Mediation Week 2018, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.

“What’s it like?”

Written by Jeremy, aged 16

Whats a story,
Without a dilemma?
What’s a family,
Without a father?
What’s it like,
Getting a full nights rest?
What’s it like,
Living with both parents?
What’s it like,
Being happy?
What’s it like,
Telling a friend?
What’s it like,
Having a reason to wake?
What’s it like,
Being able to concentrate?
What’s it like,
Feeling ‘normal’?
What’s it like,
Without cuts on your wrists?
I would tell you,
What it’s like,
But I just don’t know

Are you training for a sprint or marathon?

Written by Karen Marshall


When you are separating, going through a divorce or rebuilding your life again, you may be thinking, love will never happen again, or you really don’t want another relationship right now, because of the pain, heartache, and challenges you are working through.  If you have children, their welfare will be something else on your mind.  Let’s face it – splitting up is never going to be fun – and it may have you living one day at a time. And that’s all before you start getting into the protracted pain of legal proceedings and solicitors bills.

If you are smart, you will have tried to reduce all that stress by accessing mediation. But even with the most peaceful divorce, it is important to give yourself time to heal emotionally before moving on into a new relationship.



If you find yourself in your 40’s, 50’s or over, if you’re taking time out to heal your heart and get your head straight, finding love again could be far away from your thoughts.  You could feel like you’re running a long marathon without any finish line in sight.  Your vision ahead is only on the road right now. 

When you are hurt and cut yourself, you need time to heal any wound.  It is the same with your heart.  As your wound or heart takes time to heal, learn to love yourself again, how you can improve your inner happiness, and the skills to bounce back so much more quickly if you are ready to change your experience of life.


dating after divorce



If you value your self-worth and self-development, you’ve possibly had some counselling to support you emotionally, to help you feel happier and more confident, so it’s important to take the first step getting to know YOU again and what makes you tick.

With the right self-development support, you will transform your thinking and future choices.

If you want to be empowered to get YOU back on track, with an expert helping hand by your side, now is the perfect time to make the right life choices ahead if you’re ready to get out there and start socialising again.

As you rebuild your life independently being single once more, I cannot stress enough, you need to be guided in the right direction.  You will otherwise get lost in the jungle of life or keep falling into the same negative holes on your road ahead.  When you learn new skills now, you will quickly navigate around the holes, instead of falling again and again or staying stuck emotionally or mentally. 

Sometimes in life we meet people we are not expecting, and it can happen when are you feeling lonely or vulnerable.  If you only focusing on your children, you could possibly waste the next 1, 2 or 5 years of your life waiting to feel ready. If you don’t take different steps NOW you will continue to carry your negative experience of divorce around with you now and into your future that will impact every area of your life.



Be warned! If you are looking for sexual chemistry to have fun right now, or choose to be single, that is okay. It’s all part of your journey.  This is also a vulnerable time you could attract someone and get pulled into a relationship that is unhealthy, or not right for you.    

If you do, the chances are you are likely to repeat the same relationship mistakes, or sabotage your dating experience or any new potential relationship (you might not even be aware of doing this). 

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Family Mediation Week 2018, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.


“It has its benefits, two bedrooms, two Christmases, two holidays and two places that you can call home!”

Written by Bryony, aged 16 (voices in the middle)

When I was in year 9, I started to notice changes, my mum and dad didn’t really talk to each other much any more. There were never any arguments or loud conversations, so when they told me and my twin on a February Thursday afternoon I panicked. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My heart felt like it was starting to race, my hands started to shake and everything seemed to slow down, until I started to hyperventilate and cry at the same time. My dad had to calm me down, 3 times for it to stop. But it didn’t stop there, I had to play netball that evening, and I just couldn’t do it, I was angry at everyone else whose parents were still together, why did they deserve it over me? This anger was massive inside of me for a good 6 months, my panic attacks became more frequent and I didn’t feel like I had anyone to talk to. The only thing I had to keep my calm was my sport after a while, sprinting out the anger, kicking the football so hard when I scored that goal (my goals that season actually increased by 200%) and netball getting that flying interception! Of course the panic attacks were still there, but they got better as I taught myself how to control them.

Of course it was hard, seeing my Dad in a flat with one bed and we had to sleep on a floor air bed that was so noisy when you turned, I remember one night where I just didn’t sleep at all. And my mum had our newly extended 4 bedroom house with 3 bathrooms and a good sized garden… It was hard that Dad didn’t have that. What was also hard was Dad started dating 4 weeks after the separation… Did it really take him four weeks to get over my mum? (Now I realise no, he just needs to have someone there, he’s a softie like that, but his girlfriend then is still his girlfriend now over 2 years later – happy days) In July, we went on holiday to the Isle of Wight with my Dad and his girlfriend with her two kids, that’s when he officially bought the house because solicitors had to communicate with solicitors at home which was all confusing. But that time is important because I realised, all though the splitting was hard, it had actually brought me closer to my Dad. We had similar experiences and we didn’t spend a long time with him but it made me closer to him.

My Mum didn’t really get into a relationship until about a year after, even though I did keep pestering her. I remember it was about a year because I went to a party a couple of days before the 1st year anniversary of it all, and I was upset, so I drank so much of whatever was put in my hand that I threw up about 20 times, and a couple of weeks later I met my Mum’s new boyfriend. By that summer, I got on so well with everyone in my family, my Dad’s and my Mum’s, it has its benefits, two bedrooms, two Christmases, two holidays and two places that you can call home!

At this point in my life, 4 weeks before my GCSEs start, I can truly say I am finally happy and I am so close to both my Mum and my Dad. And the splitting up may have been terrible but it taught me lots of things, who you can trust friendshipwise, the value of money and that happiness can be found with more than one person!

Family Mediation Week 2018, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.

Brynne Edelsten’s ‘brutal’ divorce, a lifestyle choice over divorce mediation?

Written by Brynne Edelsten

Brynne Edelsten’s ‘brutal’ divorce, a lifestyle choice over divorce mediation?

US-Born Brynne Edelsten described her divorce as nasty and brutal”, leading her to declare she would never be friends” with the former Sydney Swans owner as she battled to finalise her financial settlement.  But conflict creates stress – both financial and emotional – which is why divorce mediation could have made Brynne’s experience of divorce very different..

Samantha Jago, Divorce Mediator and Solicitor at RHW Solicitors, believes that the emotional, health and financial costs of divorce can be transformed by making a different choice, which is why she offers a Fixed-Fee Mediation service.

The stress of an unhappy marriage has knock-on effects on health and finances, often leading to poor eating habits and, sometimes, the need to take medication for depression – all of which can lead to weight gain. Socialite Brynne Edelsten revealed recently that she put on 20kgs during her marriage to Geoffrey Edelsten, which she managed to lose after the “hideous” split. She blamed the weight gain on the medication she was taking.

But her divorce seems to have been even more unhappy than her marriage – so although Brynne lost weight and boosted her self esteem as her divorce came to a close, she also lost many thousands in legal fees.

While for many, divorces are a painful process, calls for conflict-free divorce have been on the increase since the 1990s when moves to cut legal aid began. However, a government in austerity is focused on the short-term cost savings, often at the expense of fair settlements.

Amicable settlement is certainly something to aim for, but not at the cost of fairness, and seeking legal advice in the first place is still the best way to prevent long-term heartache – and choosing your mediator wisely.
Samantha comments that: “A MIAMs is compulsory before any Court application can be made in any event, so it is worth taking it one step further and booking in for a mediation session with your ex.”
“Recent research has shown that the cost of legal services is plagued by a serious lack of transparency, and with the limited budget situation families face during separation, it’s important that they know from the outset that the costs of mediation will remain manageable. An unexpected large legal bill would only add to the stress of divorce and the negative health effects that can result.”
In reality, mediation is not about making quick easy decisions that you will later regret. It is about creating a sustainable long-term agreement on how two people will now live separately – and if they have children, how they will continue to collaborate peacefully.

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Family Mediation Week 2018, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.


Securing Your Financial Future After Divorce

Written by Suzy Miller

Mediation can be a very effective way to sort out financial arrangements during and post-divorce, but how can you best prepare for those mediation sessions?

In his interview with Suzy Miller of the Alternative Divorce GuideCharlie Reading, of Chartered Financial Planning firm Efficient Portfolio, talks about securing your financial future after divorce, and how to prepare for and deal with the financial impact of divorce.

The financial impact of divorce can be very demanding, especially as it comes at a time when the emotional stress is already high. Taking the time to plan financially helps ensure that your divorce runs as smoothly as possible, increasing your chances of a fairer settlement and greater future security.

As you make the shift from planning your finances as a couple to going it alone, you will need to develop a resilient, flexible strategy to prevent yourself running short of funds in the future. This will also help you to cope with the unexpected. A holistic financial planning service is the way forward, whether you need to reorganise your finances now, want to establish a new financial plan for the future or make sure your plan is adaptable to any future changes. Here is how you can tackle the situation in the most effective way:

Know What You’re Dealing With

If you’re facing an uncontested divorce or a default divorce, the process is more straightforward than a contested divorce, which can involve considerably more expense through court cases, barrister or solicitors’ bills and costly legal fees. A different plan will be needed in each case.

Take an Inventory

If you’re about to approach your spouse about a divorce or separation, make sure you have a plan about where you will live, and what your incomings and outgoings will be. Have a thorough idea of what your shared financial assets are, such as investment accounts, insurance policies and other assets (cars, houses, etc.)

Cushion Yourself

As well as money for the lawyer and other associated legal fees, you will also need a financial cushion to help you move into a new house and deal with your living expenses. If you don’t, you might face the worst-case scenario of being forced to accept a divorce settlement that doesn’t fully compensate you or completely support your needs. Having a financial plan in place will equip you to ascertain what is rightfully yours.

Sort Out Your Paperwork and Create a Divorce File

Getting your finances in order means first getting all your paperwork organised. Taking copies of deeds, insurance policies and other important financial documents is a good start, and you should securely store account numbers for bank accounts, credit cards and car loans, investment accounts and retirement savings accounts. Be prepared for the splitting of your financial assets by starting a divorce file so you can easily get access to all the information you need.

Seek the Help of a Financial Adviser

To ensure that if something unexpected happens in the future, and your financial plan is not derailed, you need to find a highly-qualified adviser who specialises in estate planning, taxation and investments. A professional of this type will ensure that your estate is dealt with in a tax efficient manner and is protected for your family in the future. This needs to be someone who you can trust and who understands your needs. You can read our free guide to finding an adviser here: *Finding an adviser in a post RDR world.

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Family Mediation Week 2018, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.

Why you need a mortgage expert sooner than you think when you’re getting divorced

Written by Carl Mountain

“I’m going to my mother’s!” (and slamming the door) doesn’t let you off the hook if the marital home has a mortgage on it and you decide to get a divorce. If your name is on the mortgage, you are as liable as your spouse for the payments. So getting divorce financial advice early on is a good idea.

What’s yours is his and what’s his, is yours – including debts and mortgages. And if the payments are not made, your credit history will be damaged.

So getting to a place of financial independence as soon as possible – even before the divorce is completed – is vital. It’s never too early to sit down with a financial planner to look at how to achieve that independence in the longer term – and also to deal with mortgage and property issues in the short term.

Your financial advisor will suggest that you contact your mortgage company and if the situation is complex (spouse refusing to pay the mortgage but has control of the purse-strings) then the mortgage company may offer a payment holiday – which can buy you valuable time. Getting divorce financial advice at an early stage is a very good idea.

 What are my mortgage and financial options?
If your name is not on the deeds, then you can register your matrimonial rights through the Land Registry to stop your partner selling against your wishes. Especially if the house was bought after you were married.

When it comes to divorce in the UK, the matrimonial home is considered a joint asset and you cannot be forced to leave by your partner. Don’t let them bully you into thinking they can. This is why getting some initial legal advice is a good idea.

Providing your house is easy to sell, just both moving out and selling up can seem the simplest option, and may allow a clean break divorce settlement to become a realistic solution. However, if your kids are settled in the local school, and you are not going to be able to buy a big enough house for the family with the proposed divorce settlement, then selling up may not be the best option.

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The options about what to do and how to move forward can be talked through in a calm and constructive way in mediation.

Family Mediation Week 2018, Click here to find out everything you need to know about Family Mediation and how it can help.