January: a time of failed resolutions, precious little daylight, and money hangovers from the festive period. It’s no wonder so many people look to book their summer getaway in the early part of the year or, more significantly for my profession, decide to call time on their failed relationship.
For many years now family mediators have reported an upsurge in business once the holiday period – the final straw for many couples’ strained relationships – is over.
And so January provides perfect timing for the now-annual initiative known as ‘Family Mediation Week’, which aims to highlight the benefits to separating and divorcing couples of seeking mediated agreements over parenting, money and property, rather heading straight off to a family court.
It’s well-documented that, as a profession, family mediation has not thrived in the post-LASPO era, with official figures having consistently reported falls in take-up of the process.
Yet family mediation remains a far less stressful way for separating couples to make those all-important settlements, and is quicker and cheaper than taking the ‘traditional’ route of the court battle with their ex.
Mediation is also remarkably successful at ensuring families keep control of their own futures, rather than leaving them in the hands of a judge. And this success is highlighted with brand new data, recently unveiled by The Family Mediation Council – the body which maintains a professional register of family mediators who meet the highest professional standards.
Its new research indicates the success of mediation assisting couples resolve disputes in over 70 per cent of cases. The outcomes also showed that where both those separating see a mediator for an initial assessment meeting (MIAM), three quarters choose to go on to full mediation.
It’s worth bearing in mind that in many of these cases, those involved knew little or nothing about the process, or considered their partner to be unreasonable to the extent that mediation wouldn’t work in their specific situation.
Family Mediation Week, this year from 20 – 24 January, aims to raise awareness of mediation and how it can help separating families manage their issues collaboratively and productively. It’s a useful vehicle to promote to families in conflict that not only are there alternatives to prolonged acrimony, but that those alternatives have a great success rate. There’s certainly a buzz amongs the family mediation community around this initiative.
For me, one of the greatest strengths of mediation to be hailed during any promotional activity is the way it can give the child at the centre of the break-up a voice in the process of determining the family’s future.
Mediation helps move the adults away from what is too often their primary focus: their own anger and resentment towards their ex.
The long experience of our national network tells us how couples who are prepared to take joint responsibility for their child in the years after the split, work far better together as co-parents than those eschew mediation and make a beeline for a court.
As a mediator, you’d expect me to hail family mediation, especially during a promotional event, and I would hate to disappoint.