Although we’d all like to live in a world in which love and marriage last forever, sadly, that’s not always the case. Couples grow apart for many different reasons and at their breaking point, it’s often best for them to go their separate ways.
However, separating as a couple is not without its difficulties, couples often share assets and finances that will need to be divided between them, not to mention that for many couples there are also children, pets and family ties to contend with.
With so much at stake and emotions running high, it’s not surprising that divorce and separation are ranked as some of the most stressful life events that a person can go through in their lifetime, but thankfully family mediation and Family Mediation Week can help.
Family mediation is designed to help couples who are separating to come to an agreement on things that need to be settled such as finances, property matters, and arrangements with their children. With a lot of personal topics to discuss, many emotions at play and often uncovered relationship issues, without mediation, discussions, and negotiations between couples can quickly turn to arguments.
During the process of family mediation, a trained family mediator will help to keep conversations neutral and to guide couples to a well-informed decision, ensuring that everyone leaves the process with a deal that is fair and was made without rash emotion. Depending on the relationship between mediation participants, they may meet with their family mediator separately or together to discuss the terms of their separation.
If meeting separately, then there may be co-mediators assigned to help the couples converse without the need to meet face-to-face. For families with children, some mediators are also specially trained to deal with children and young people, ensuring that they are best placed to take into account their feelings and wishes during negotiations. Although children do not often attend family mediation meetings, they have the right to be consulted on arrangements that will directly impact their lives, such as custody.
The benefits of family mediation
Family mediation is incredibly successful, with more than 70% of people who use a family mediator during their separation able to reach an agreement about their financial information and child custody. Here are some of the other reason why family mediation is so beneficial:
It is an alternative to litigation. Going through a separation can be stressful enough without getting the law and the courts involved. Family mediation provides an alternative way for families to come to an agreement that allows them to keep their personal lives out of court and off of the public records. Of course, there are situations in which legal aid is needed, but most people would rather try an alternative first.
It is cheaper. Divorce and separation can be costly to all parties involved, especially if lawyers and court proceedings become involved. Family mediation is a much cheaper alternative, helping couples to ease their financial stress.
It is less stressful. There’s no worse way to end a relationship than speaking through lawyers and fighting in court. Family mediation is a much less stressful way to ensure that all parties come away with an agreement that they are happy with, preserving the chance of ongoing familial relationships, especially in situations where children are involved.
It can help to re-balance relationships. During a separation, there can be a lot of imbalances, often leading to arguments and unnecessary stress and conflict. Family mediators are trained to be able to re-balance conversations and to steer participants in a gentle but firm manner.
It can make things easier for children. No parent wants their child to be involved in a heated legal dispute over their custody. Family mediation provides a calmer environment from which such matters can be discussed and helps to put the wellbeing of children first.
The history of Family Mediation Week
There’s no doubt that family mediation can prove extremely helpful for separating families, and yet many people still don’t know what it is and how it can help them. This leaves thousands of couples to work through their separations alone, often reducing their chances of receiving a fair and favorable outcome. To raise awareness of family mediation, The Family Mediation Association began Family Mediation Week in 2017, as a way to promote mediation services and their benefits. Running for a week during January, Family Mediation Week and its website, provide guidance, support, blogs, materials, and contacts to families who could benefit from family mediation, whilst also helping family mediators to publicize their services so that they can help more people.
How to celebrate Family Mediation Week
Although the separation of couples and families may not seem like something to celebrate, the successful outcomes of the 70% of people who use family mediation services certainly is. It’s important to remember that the key aim of Family Mediation Week is to raise awareness about mediation and so it is vital that as many people as possible take part to help share information about the valuable services provided by family mediators.
For families or individuals, the best way to take part in Family Mediation Week is to share the event on social media, so that it ends up in the feeds of your friends and colleagues. The Family Mediation Association and other mediation service providers will also be publishing a lot of supporting content and hosting drop-in sessions at this time, so keep an eye out for them and re-share or attend if you are able to. It may not seem like much, but speaking about family mediation from your own experience can be extremely beneficial to other couples who are going through or are considering separation, so don’t keep quiet.
For family mediators
For family mediators, there are many ways that you can get involved, such as by sharing your own articles or blog posts about family mediation, offering to give an interview at your local radio station, providing free half-hour assessment sessions for new clients and running evening workshops for those looking to learn more about the benefits of family mediation. As experts in your industry, you are best placed to reach out to local media outlets and to publicize the aim of Family Mediation Week.