Category Archives: Divorce

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!

 

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.

“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

www.voicesinthemiddle.org.uk

Are you training for a sprint or marathon?

Written by Karen Marshall

PAINFUL BEGINNINGS

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.

 

THE HEALING PROCESS

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

 

REBUILDING YOU

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.

 

HAVE SOME FUN ALONG THE WAY BUT BE WARNED

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). 

Read the rest of the article here: https://alternativedivorcedirectory.co.uk/get-life-back-track-divorce-relationship-dating-coach-karen-marshall/

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!

www.voicesinthemiddle.org.uk

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.

Click to read the full article: https://alternativedivorcedirectory.co.uk/brynne-edelsten-brutal-divorce-lifestyle-choice-over-divorce-mediation-samantha-jago-rhw/

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.

Read the rest of the article here: https://alternativedivorcedirectory.co.uk/divorce-finance-securing-financial-future-after-divorce/

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.

Read full article here: https://alternativedivorcedirectory.co.uk/need-mortgage-expert-divorce-financial-advice-kingston-surrey-london/

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.

 

Amongst all the heartache and anger, there is fear!

Written by Anne Braithwaite, FMA

I have been a mediator for over 25 years. For all but the last 5 ½ of those years, I was also a divorce lawyer dealing with all the fall out when a marriage ends with a focus on money. I guess I’ve now spent going on for 35 years helping people from all walks of life sort out what to do when the world as they know it ends. I know that, amongst all the heartache and anger, there is fear about what the future will bring. Until finances are sorted out it’s impossible to live other than in limbo, a very insecure place to be.

So everybody who separates needs to resolve financial issues before they can rebuild their lives. Often having a safer place financially speaking helps focus on the emotional needs of children. It also means you can answer the questions which they have about where they will live and go to school.

Many people don’t have a clue where to start or, even if they do, feel the need of some professional help. A mediator gives that help. Mediators don’t just get couples in a room and then let them just try to sort things out. How would anyone know where to start? That’s the mediator’s job. Whilst being flexible to the needs of each couple, mediators are in charge of the actual process. Your mediator ensures that sessions have focus and that the whole process feels that it is going somewhere. Mediation has to feel safe and that it has a structure and purpose.

Separation is new to you. You need to understand what the rules are. Mediators help there by giving what we call “legal information”. That means explaining things such as what the relevant legal factors are in a neutral way. I know my clients find that knowing what a court would consider helps them talk about their own financial division and what feels like a fair outcome. Having that information enables people to start to talk with a sense of direction.

Mediators also help to explain what you might do about pensions for example, a subject of great importance where most people feel at least a little at sea. Mediators make suggestions about how to achieve agreed valuations and get mortgage advice. They help you pull all the threads together. This is all new to clients but many mediators have years of experience in the family law field. We are guides through the process who can pass on knowledge so that you realise that you actually can be in control of what happens. Crucially a mediator will help you work out the shape of your future.

This is all against the background of full financial disclosure. There has to be evidence about income and capital, not just taking each other’s words for things. Apart from the fact that nobody can start to talk about dividing everything up without establishing what is there in the first place, mediators realise that trust is usually in short supply. Clients only feel safe to negotiate when they are sure of the facts.

A mediator will also listen to what is important to you both and may help you take into consideration things that haven’t even occurred to you, or at least not to both of you, such as being able to live in areas which offer a chance of getting children into good schools and how to help your children through higher education and to afford the school trips that their friends will go on.

When you decide on what you want to do, the mediator sets that out in a memorandum of understanding. This isn’t legally binding yet as it is the last step in negotiations. It’s also a good idea to have legal advice before making your proposals legally binding. I always strongly suggest to my clients that they take that advice in between our mediation sessions and not wait until the mediation is concluded. The terms in the memorandum are made legally binding by having either a separation agreement or a consent order made in divorce proceedings.

Mediation is a professionally led means of negotiation, a negotiation where you are assisted by a neutral third party who will be able to give you legal information and practical pointers whilst ensuring an equality of bargaining power between the two of you. It is a process where the two of you determine the shape of your futures for yourselves. After all only the two of you know what will best suit you and your family. What mediation is not, is remotely fluffy.

Anne Braithwaite

Treasurer on the board of The Family Mediators Association

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

So why should children be included in mediation?

Written by Bill Hewlett

I have been thinking about the many reasons that separating parents in mediation should be encouraged to give their children an opportunity to talk about how they’re feeling. Giving children a voice in mediation allows the parents to make decisions from an informed position. If they know how their children are feeling, they can, with the help of the mediator, work to make things better for all the family, creating a better parenting relationship that will leave the children free to grow and develop without concerns about how their parents are getting on with each other.

Parents usually try to shield their children from conflict, but invariably the children know that something big is happening when their parents separate and they can often feel left out. Including children in the process and letting them feel that their views and feelings are important is a very positive thing and can help alleviate their anxiety and confusion.

Bear in mind that these parents are probably struggling to understand and appreciate each other’s perspectives and they may also be finding it hard to focus on how their children are coping. The challenge is that, even though these parents are currently unable to talk to each other constructively and reassuringly about their children, they still have responsibility for making decisions that influence where the children live, what they eat, what school they go to, how they feel about themselves, how well they sleep, the list goes on. It appears that nothing matters more to children than what their parents think of each other.

When parents are fighting with each other they seem to lose their ability to be fully aware of how their children are feeling. The children may not want to say anything because they don’t want to add to an already stressful situation.

I often feel when we hear parents speaking harshly about each other, that we are hearing a description of a world that must be very difficult and dangerously stressful for their child and I feel that we should be reacting with immediate and urgent concern. This is what we should be thinking about when we hear the lack of respect that the parents have for each other, when we hear them question each other’s morality, when they tell us that they hate each other. The dangerously toxic environment that these children are living in could cause them lifelong harm, seriously compromising their wellbeing and their capacity to thrive now and in the future. We know that these parents are often so stressed and full of anxiety, thinking catastrophic thoughts, terrified about their future and afraid of what the other parent might do, that they are often only barely coping. And, while they are going through all this, they have absolute and ultimate responsibility for the mental, emotional, physical wellbeing of their children. In mediation, we take these concerns really seriously and want to do all we can to help the parents make a safer world for their children.

The Bottom line is, that regardless of how the children are choosing to talk about how their parents are managing their separation, if things aren’t good between their parents, then they won’t be good for the children. The reality is that ‘there’s no such thing as a still child around chaotic parents’ (Winnecott).

We need some way to draw the attention of the parents to what is happening to their children. When the parents are aware as to how their relationship is impacting on their children they will naturally be concerned and want to create an environment where their children can thrive

Children don’t want to be the decision makers on what arrangements are made for their care and welfare, but generally, (if they don’t think it’s going to make things worse), they would like to talk about it. If they could talk to someone who is committed to taking their perspectives into discussion with the parents, someone who they can feel confident will not make it worse, someone who can tell their parents things that maybe they haven’t been able to, then they often feel like a heavy burden has been lifted.

When children are helped to talk about their feelings, they begin to understand more and more about what’s going on for them. Children have a need to talk through things so that they can get a sense of how they should think and feel. They are designed to link up their young brains with a grown up adult brain to help make sense of things, to get a bigger picture perspective. When someone helps them to put a word to something they have been feeling but not perhaps not fully understanding, they feel better. We call it ‘naming it (the emotion) and taming it (the fear)’ (Seigel).

If you are thinking of using mediation to help you work out your parenting arrangements for your children now that you have separated, why don’t you ask your mediator to arrange for a child consultant to meet with your children? This will help you both to make plans that will allow your children to thrive, safe in the knowledge that they will appreciate being asked.

Bill Hewlett

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