Mediation Matters: Changing the culture of divorce – a mediator’s new year reflections
04 JAN 2016
NFM's At-Court Mediation project successfully showed that couples who have become entrenched in conflict can, with the right help, find an exit from the courtroom drama and move on in a positive way.
When a new year dawns, there’s often an eagerness to settle on some new year aspirations. But in the rush for resolutions, it’s easy to overlook the need to reflect on the year that’s passed.
So before I outline my professional wishes for 2016, allow me a brief reflection on 2015. Highlights are too many to mention in a short blog, but aside from rising demand that NFM mediators have experienced over the past 12 months, let me pick out just two specific highs.
One of these was the remarkable success of NFM’s At-Court Mediation project, funded by the DWP, which completed its trial period in the summer.
The programme, which ran in three pilot areas, helped parents who had been separated for more than 2 years, and were locked in the family court system, to suspend legal proceedings and meet specialist mediators to negotiate long-term arrangements for children, property and finance.
It successfully showed that couples who have become entrenched in conflict can, with the right help, find an exit from the courtroom drama and move on in a positive way.
Part of the project saw a strategic Conflict Reduction intervention, which acted as a coaching session in preparation for mediation. We know too many separating people are unaware of mediation’s benefits and are not psychologically ready to work on finding non-confrontational ways to resolve their disputes.
By giving these couples skills in listening, understanding, working through and resolving conflict, and strategies to change their destructive communication patterns, we were able to help them better understand the impact of their behaviours on their children, and become equipped with the skills needed to reach agreements.
Seventy per cent of those who attended the coaching went on to try full mediation, of which 80 per cent reached full agreement. They developed effective communication so that they could make the transition from spouse to separated parent, and re-focus their efforts on their children's health and welfare.
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