In the second of our series of articles we talk about the role of mediation when you and your partner have children.
How can mediation help me sort out arrangements for my children?
The Children Act 1989 which governs how a court should deal with disputes about arrangements for children contains the “no order principle”. The effect is that the court must not make an order unless it is necessary. The more you can agree together, the less likely it is that a court needs to make an order.
Judges are always mindful that they are your children: normally what you agree together for them is best because you know your children and the court does not.
Mediation can enable you to agree arrangements together, which usually makes it easier to work through further difficulties should they arise in future
What sort of thing can we agree?
Imagine the arrangements you could make if you sat down together over a cup of coffee; mediation is no different.
You might agree how they should share their time between you; how to arrange foreign holidays; which school they should attend; when to introduce them to your new partner
Is the agreement binding?
No, because mediation is never legally binding.
However, if you agree something and start to put it into effect then it becomes more difficult for one of you later to change your mind without good reason.
Most successful mediations build trust to a point where parents stop being so concerned at how they might enforce the agreed arrangements. Mediated agreements tend to last. If things do go wrong then you can always involve the court at a later date if necessary.
Would it involve the children?
Not normally because it’s usually best to insulate them from adult disagreements. Sometimes for older children it might be appropriate for them to meet in private with the mediator. A properly trained mediator will be able to advise on when that might happen.
Do I need to instruct a solicitor?
It’s not a requirement, but it might help you be confident that you are making an informed arrangement and help you know where you stand. An experienced family lawyer will be able to advise on when it is appropriate to go to mediation. Resolution is a body of family lawyers committed to dealing with family issues in a constructive and non-confrontational way.
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